Monday, July 14, 2008

Size zero and body image

I finally got around the watching the end of The Truth About Size Zero last night. It followed model Louise Redknapp while she attempted to lose about 2 sizes to fit into a size zero in 30 days. She did it because she was becoming more and more concerned about eating disorders and so on.

Surprise, surprise it found that being a size zero isn't healthy (unless of course you are very short - presumably it is the right size for someone) nor is crash dieting to get there. In fact, the vast majority of it was very dull and predictable - although probably good viewing for 13 year olds who haven't learnt about the horrible monster that most people turn into when they crash diet.

But there was this really interesting bit at the beginning. Louise is, as I said, a model. Apparently a fairly famous one in the UK if you're into that sort of thing. At the beginning she was photographed in a singlet and trackpants for the before shot. She was horrified at what she saw. She thought she looked fat. Going in to the photo shoot she said was happy with her body, thought she looked great. She pointed out that most of the photos she sees of herself have been photoshopped. The tummy is flattened, skin darkened, thighs sculpted - all the usual stuff. The photoshopped version of herself is what her self-image was.

This was not commented on in the show - which I think is a real shame. What hope do any of the rest of us have of seeing reality through photoshopped images if the subjects of those images are fooled? It disgusts me that the media take no responsibility for this. Self-image seems to be incredibly malleable, I'm guessing it is an unusual person whose self-image actually matches reality. Looking at perfected images of people whose full time job is to make themselves look perfect has to impact hugely.

Or maybe we can use this phenomenon to our own advantage - if Louise Redknapp can believe her own press, maybe we all can. Perhaps everyone should fill their own world with photoshopped images of themselves, until you believe it. Who said your body image needed to be accurate?


  1. I really enjoyed this observation. Great post.

  2. Ariane,
    I have to say that Louis Rednknap is not a famous model -- she is merely the wife of an almost famous football (which means she is a role model for most UK female teenages but that is another matter equally worrying.).


  3. Neil - I stand corrected. I am oddly devoid of knowledge of either source of celebrity.

    But yes, celebrity by marriage to sports people is pretty much fodder for another rant. I've no doubt your daughters will look to the wives of scientists. :)

  4. Great post! To be fair, Louise was a (not particularly memorable) pop singer before she married Redknapp.

  5. Ahh? Really? OK, so there are three sources of celebrity I am completely uninformed about. :)

    And thanks. :)