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Body Image Concerns from a CosmoGirl Reader

October 16, 2009 at 10:45AM by Colleen Moody |

Body Image

There has been a lot of chatter lately over the portrayal of body image in the media. First there was the Kelly Clarkson Photoshopping incident in Self and recently a Ralph Lauren model was fired even after she was Photoshopped for not being skinny enough. Needless to say, we are getting mixed signals from the media, telling us to have a healthy weight, but then not backing it up in their own pages.

CosmoGirl reader *Cathy, 12, from Colorado feels the same way. She sent us this letter earlier this month expressing her concerns with the way skinny is being portrayed in the media:

Dear CosmoGirl:

Imagine a girl who's teeth are rotted from her constantly forcing herself to throw up in the bathroom. One who painfully wraps her [waist] with duct tape, or goes on a dangerous diet of eating nothing in middle school. Imagine staring at the tombstone of a young girl who died because of an eating disorder. Imagine your daughter crying herself to sleep after looking in a mirror and comparing herself to the Barbie doll like models in magazines. Imagine being able to stop it. You have the power to help kids, teens, and even adults to raise their self-esteem. We may not be able to repair it completely, but we can raise it somewhat.

Although I am only 12 years old, I know several girls who, because of the figures in magazines, have been on diets since age nine. According to friends experiences and articles I have found on the Internet, this is not very rare. Girls of a very young age are being taught that they need to be "hot" and thin. This is not healthy.

Do you know how many Americans have eating disorders? About eight million. Seven million of those are women. One out of every 2,000 American women suffers from anorexia and 2 out of 3 in 100 Americans have bulimia. Some girls can reject the image that the media puts forth of the overly skinny model, but that is only around 18 percent.

Eating disorders are dangerous. More people die from them than any other mental illness. In anorexic women alone, 10 percent of them will die within 10 years of developing the disease. Only 1 in 10 people will receive treatment, as it can cost up to $2,000 a day!

Studies show that children 10 and up who have been exposed to fashion magazines have a higher chance of developing eating disorders. What [magazines] need to do to help is put more realistic sized models in their pages. If they start advertising with healthy girls, readers will get the message that starving yourself is not right. There should be more articles warning readers about eating disorders. Please so something to change how young girls see themselves and make it a positive change.

What do you think of this reader's letter? Do you agree? How do you think the media should fix this growing concern? Tell us below!

*Name has been changed to respect reader's privacy. All data from the letter was done from the reader solely, and may or may not be accurate to date.



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Deanne Hess

Queen of
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Colleen Moody

Colleen is the Web Editor for and spends her days blogging for The Daily Kiss, toiling over quizzes and playing with the clothes and makeup products that come her way.
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Tammy Tibbetts

Tammy is editor of CosmoGirl's sister web sites, and, so she gets to play around with pretty dresses and tiaras. Leave her blog comments and she will love you almost as much as her favorite things: Spain, hummus, pink, magazines, The New York Times, and spontaneity.
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Lauren Brown

A lifelong pop culture junkie, Lauren made her dream of being a writer in NYC come true just four days after graduating from the University of South Florida. Her crazy career has taken her from print (entertainment editor of CosmoGIRL!, staff writer of Us Weekly, and deputy features editor of Inside TV) to radio (booking talent and producing segments on Sirius Satellite Radio) to TV (writing scripts for New Afternoons on MTV with host Adrienne Bailon). She's also the author of three unauthorized celebrity biographies and has a series of YA novels called Doggy Divas, hitting stores in October 2010.
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