Addressing Risks of Narrow Body & Beauty Ideals in the Media – Butterfly: Let’s Talk Season 2, Episode 17

It’s no secret we’ve been fed overly narrow beauty and body standards through advertising and the media for as long as both have been around. What’s less talked about are the consequences: Constant exposure to idealised bodies promotes body dissatisfaction, and poor self-esteem can trigger serious and life-threatening eating disorders.

“We’ve grown up with it,” says veteran of the magazine industry and founder of Mamamia, Mia Freedman. Not only are most models and celebrities “tall, white, skinny, exceptionally beautiful, flawless, and Anglo Saxon but they’re also airbrushed.”

The often-toxic media industry is not only dangerous for consumers but also for the people who work in them.

Journalist Shelly Horton says,” I was out on the red carpet, at all of the movie premieres, interviewing stars, all that stuff when one day my boss pulled me aside and said, “Shelly, we’ve decided that you’re probably more valuable to us behind the scenes.” When she asked why, the answer was, “You’re too fat for TV.”

Fashion reporter Melissa Hoyer takes us to a place where the media and fashion collide, often with devastating consequences. Butterfly’s Communications Manager Alex Cowen talks about her work to educate journalists and advertising creatives to help them understand how a narrow view of beauty can cause real harm. And Elizabeth Paton, Project Lead of the Mindframe National Guidelines, talks about how these were developed for safe and accurate media portrayal and reporting of mental ill-health, including for eating disorders.

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