What do Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart, supermodel Kate Moss, and Nicole Richie have in common?

They all have super-slim bodies that are virtually unattainable – and the unfortunate thing is, television and other media have become so pervasive that women all over the world desire to attain these physiques at all costs.

This portrayal of the “ideal body shape” in celebrities applies an unpleasant cultural pressure for women of all ages to be thin.

Even the more mature stars of the hit TV series “Desperate Housewives” feel the demands, because they know that in La-La Land, ‘looks’ are everything.

Pressure starts from childhood

Women who were on the “chubby” side during their growing-up years know the pain of enduring teasing and being called unfriendly names by their playmates.

In school, girls compete for the attention of young men who predictably avoid overweight girls. They search for social acceptance and often end up relentlessly aiming for a hard-to-achieve body weight, often harming themselves in the process.

In a study conducted by Hargreaves and Tiggemann, it was found that media affects the people around girls (i.e., men and boys) in the way they hold unrealistic expectations for an ideal partner.

When asked about the characteristics they looked for in girls, the item, “slim figure” surprisingly ranked higher than “intelligence.”

Aggravating the situation is the over-zealousness of some sectors to fight obesity.

Their good intentions may actually backfire when overweight children are singled out, subjecting them to measures such as controlled diets and strenuous exercises.

This can lead to stigmatization and may pressure kids into trying out extreme diets.

This, apart from the direct effect media has on women, continues to destroy the self-esteem of women who don’t – and can never have – the unbelievably frail physiques that these celebs have.

Where in the 17th century, famous painters such as Peter Paul Rubens glorified curvy and well-endowed women, today, the ideal size has been whittled down to Size Zero – that is, one with a waistline of 23 inches, which is similar to that of an 8-year-old girl’s.

A Size Zero is nearly impossible to achieve today unless one goes on a strict diet or has had some sort of operation.

In the 19th century, ladies had to wear uncomfortable corsets to simulate hourglass figures.

In the 1920s, women starved themselves and even bound their breasts to attain the ideal body shape at the time.

And perhaps one of the more controversial weight-loss methods by celebrities was that of opera singer Maria Callas allegedly ingesting a tapeworm to lose almost 80 pounds during the years of 1953-54.

Rather than be criticized for the sudden drop in body size, she was even hailed by the likes of opera conductor Nicola Rescigno and Sir Rudolf Bing, GM of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, who remarked that Callas was an “astonishing, svelte, striking woman” after the weight loss.

Waifish is again what’s “in” this 21st century, and many parents are concerned.

Even Barbie has become slimmer since she came out in the market in 1959!

Solution to the problem

Of course, we all know that there are health problems linked to obesity – risks of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer.

But crash dieting also leads to severe health problems, and is without doubt not the answer to weight problems.

To keep women from desperately emulating reed-thin celebrities, the images and messages that the media portrays about the ideal figure have to be changed.

Media should use an extensive variety of models of various sizes, shapes, heights, and looks. This approach would enable viewers to visualize a broad range of acceptable body shapes.

Some countries have already acted on the alarming cases of anorexia in models.

Organizers of Madrid’s Fashion Week did not hesitate banning girls who were underweight, while designers in Italy required their models to submit medical evidence that they did not suffer from eating disorders.

But supermodel Gisele Bundchen is firm on stating that media is not entirely to be blamed for women’s obsession on slimming.

She claims that because of her strong family base, she never experienced eating disorders such as anorexia (excessive dieting) or bulimia (self-induced vomiting after binging). Indeed, family members should play a role in boosting the confidence of girls as they are growing up by providing them with the needed love and support.

M. Jamal

I’m about to hand you a special report that’ll set the ground rules for your workouts.

You’ve probably heard some of these before, but are you doing them?

What I mean is… you can use this as a basic check list every time you workout (these tips can even inspire you to come up with new ways to modify or improve your current training routine).

This report is courtesy of ‘Wameed’ and it goes into tips such as:

  • How to have all the benefits of a gym without buying a single machine.
  • Why it might take you a while to get a hang of this simple training concept and how to tweak it to target the right muscle groups.
  • Plus, this type of training may be just right for people on the go. After all, you can’t pack a pair of dumbbells in your suitcase and you won’t need to scout for gyms when you’re out of town. (One thing: you’ll need to understand the limitation to this type of workout and how to work around it).
  • 5 rules to setup a home gym on a budget. (hint: how to get your money’s worth and when to consider a refurbished piece of equipment. Plus: how NOT to miss the ‘progress’ factor in your home gym).
  • 5 tips to ensure you ‘buy wisely’ and avoid common home gym blunders: 3 safety features to look for,  3 more ‘adapt to your workout’ features NOT to skip, why spend some time on the machine you’d like to buy, another thing to look for in refurbished units.
  • Which 4 home gym gadgets give you the best value for money – skip this and setting up a full home gym can easily cost you thousands.
  • 3 ways to easily get a dumbbell set without the expense.
  • One of the most versatile workout tools you can buy for cheap and how to make sure it’s the right size for you.
  • The one reason your diet starts to lose steam and your progress stalls – explained in simple terms. Plus what to do when this happens to swing things into you favor (this may seem unusual, it even runs against what you naturally wish to do, yet it works). You get 6 ways to implement this technique.
  • Trying to get slim? Can’t stop checking your weight? Here’s why you shouldn’t panic when the scales won’t budge.
  • 5 ways to keep your diet on track. (hint: do this to avoid breaking your own rules – it won’t be so easy to quit this time… plus, a simple way around having to give up comfort foods entirely.)
  • …And much more.

You can download the report by clicking here.

Grab your copy today. Check it out and let me know what you think.

M. Jamal

P.S. You’ve probably noticed I’ve been quiet most of December. Turns out my trusty laptop needed an upgrade.

Well, to be honest it burnt out and I had to get a replacement and get back up to speed. Anyways, I hope you gave yourself a break in December… distressed, enjoyed the holidays and now you’re filled with new found motivation for 2009 (oh, the years seem to fly by so quick. Don’t you think? Make the most out of 2009)