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Are Skinny Women Good Role Models for Teens?

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Models and the so-called 'supermodels' have been idolized by teenage girls who wish to emulate them. Fashion magazines are full of skinny models wearing the latest clothing accessory or make-up, perfume and hair care to sell to other women. How much influence do skinny models have on our teens?

Of course, they sell a lifestyle, not just a look or fashion item.

Whether posing on a deserted Caribbean beach, or surrounded by well-dressed and handsome admirers, photographs of models sell products. More than that, they sell the belief to youngsters that this is what women should look like, this is who to aspire to be.

Many models are impossibly thin, unhealthy looking and skeletal, and yet youngsters who do not know any better are drawn to the belief that this is the way to be.

They themselves strive towards being so thin, to the extent of becoming bulimic in some cases or undernourished in others.

Some people are naturally thin.

They can eat double what anyone else is eating, but due to having incredibly fast metabolisms, burn off al the carbohydrates they eat and so none of it gets converted to fat.

While this may seem to be an ideal situation, in reality it isn't.

People with fast metabolisms suffer from an inability to totally relax, always feeling the need to get up and do something.

Theirheart rates are faster, they are more short-tempered, and what is more, because it feels natural to them, they do not even know that what they feel is different to anyone else.

All this is natural to them; it is not natural to most of us.

Normal women are curvy. We are built that way because that is our natural body shape. Everyone carries some fat. It is what makes us curvy; it is normal.

Fat keeps us warm in winter and it provides an extra energy boost to the body in times of hunger.

Notice I say curvy and not fat. We do not want to be fat for many reasons, but a simple calorie controlled diet can keep out weight down without starvation.

Teens tend to be very self-critical to the point of being delusional, when they look in a mirror. They see their ears are too big or their mouths too wide/narrow or that tiny spot on their nose takes on the proportions of a gooseberry. Sadly that perfectly neat little figure often seems fat in comparison to the models they see in fashion magazines or on the net.

And who could could blame them, when they might be thinking that the following models are normal?

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham

This is Victoria Beckham's latest photo from renowned photographer Josh Olins.

The former Spice Girl, wife of England captain David Beckham and mother of four children seems to think she still has that Wow! factor.

I personally don't think she ever had it, but Victoria Beckham is looked up to by a generation of teens.

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She reminds me here of aBelsen victim.

People who were starved at the Belsen concentration camp during World war II looked healthier.

She is just a walking corpse, and if any youngster wants to look like this, they will find themselves very ill indeed.

There is nothing sexy about this picture.

I went out to the pub and asked all the men present of their opinion, and ALL of them said 'yuk!' They do not want a woman looking like this as it is anything but sexy, and they would not be attracted to be a woman they met who looked like this.

Not forgetting too that this woman is 37 and looks like an underdeveloped 14 year old. Men don't find it attractive.

Ioana Spangenberg

Ioana Spangenberg

Then we have Romanian model Ioana Spangenberg, who has an unbelievably slim 20" waist.

i don't know who thought she was attractive enough to photograph, but she is so skinny and oddly shaped I wonder if she had extra fat added to her hips to make her waist look even thinner. It is out of proportion to the rest of her blody.

If some one said that she slept in a coffin by day only coming out after sun-down, and drank blood to stay alive, you could easily be tempted to believe it.

She looks unnatural as well as unhealthy, and is certainly not a role model for teens to aspire to.

Again I polled the men in the pub and they thought she looked awful and would not have wanted to touch her with the proverbial barge-pole.

Youngsters need to know we are long time dead, and our skeletons are not terribly much different to the young ladies on this page.

If you are naturally very thin, and eat a healthy diet, then you just have to live with your figure and get used to it.

If you have a tendency to pile on the pounds if you so much as look at calorie-laden foods, than bad luck, you just have to learn what you can eat and can't.

No doubt the models on this page do not strive to look so ill and thin, but they do anyway. AND they are supposed to be role models, though I have to say, of the worst kind.

Look at fashion photos or advertising billboards with your kids. Point out to them when you see a model that is too thin, because their perception may not see the obvious.

These girls here are underweight, and not good role models for teens.


This photo is added for discussion only. Which models do you think look slim and which ones look a little too slim, skinny even. I showed only the legs of one because I think they are too thin Do you agree?


Robert A. Avila, PE, MCE from Kiev, Ukraine on May 11, 2015:

I live in Ukraine. 80% of the women between 16 and 40 have the shape of Victoria Beckham. A lot of food is grown in private gardens. We buy a lot of vegetables, berries, potatoes, and nuts from babushkas who sell along the walking routes in every part of the city. It is all fresh and organic. Even most restaurants create everything from scratch organic goods.

This has been changing somewhat the last few years. The colon flora destroying McDonald's death machine is springing up everywhere.

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 02, 2014:

Fat is disgusting. It is unhealthy and leads to all sorts of medical problems. You got an issue with that? Then again, I am referring to people medically obese which every third person on the street seems to be. I'm not fighting against anorexia but I do not like society's expectation for kids to be thin. Girls are curvy naturally, not like those girls above. There is a happy medium. Personally speaking, I am getting seriously worried about society and their acceptance of fat children. The skinnies of this world are in the minority and my worry was kids becoming anorexic in order to look like them. I needn't have worried, according to you.

TheTruthHurts21 on March 02, 2014:

Again with the fat shaming. Proofread your articles. If you want to fight against anorexia, you can't sling passive aggressive insults towards those with body image issues. Want a tip? Take the words "fat" and "disgusting" out of your vocabulary. You should be ashamed of yourself.

IzzyM (author) from UK on August 18, 2013:

I'm scared to look up photos of a young girl/sex Goddess type that my daughter knows about. She showed me the photos on Facebook. We have a whole sub-culture going on that scares me half to death!

What can we do, as adults, to prevent this new 'skinny sex Goddess' culture? Give me one suggestion...

Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on August 18, 2013:

Women have been inculcated in the premise that only a certain body type is fashionable and acceptable. In this postmodern era, the ectomorphic body type which is found in many fashion models is deemed to be the ideal. This ectomorphic body image is in contrast to the average size of the American woman which is about size 14.

However, so many teenaged women do not have a positive developed sense of self so they are more vulnerable to this societal message that thin is in and the more thin, the more in and chic a woman is. As a result of this media inundation, many girls, even as young as 5, starve themselves because they believe that they are "fat" although they are of average weight. This is an informative and insighftul hub which should be required reading for all, especially mothers of young daughters.

Lauren from UK on July 31, 2013:

I was a teenage girl when the 'waif' became fashionable in Britain (where I'm from) and Kate Moss was the poster girl for a generation. I remember longing to be that thin and never feeling happy with my weight. I was forever on diets, even though I had a perfectly normal-size curvy figure.

Well, I'm 34 now and I would kill to have the figure I did as a teenager. Of course, I never appreciated it then (they say youth is wasted on the young - how true!).

Now I have a daughter of my own. And I always wonder how I can raise her to understand what beauty really means, and not what fashion and media dictate. That, in essence, is the issue I have with the thin=beauty modern world we live in.

IzzyM (author) from UK on October 18, 2012:


Mara Clemente from Borinken, Loíza on October 18, 2012:

Just wait til I get to be skinny! I'm gonna work at being offended too! :D

IzzyM (author) from UK on October 18, 2012:

Good Lord no, this is not an anti-naturally-skinny people rant because being thin is perfectly normal for some people., like yourself and your family.

I do believe I did mention naturally slim people above, but the problem lies in society believing everyone should be thin. Most of us will not be because we were not built that way. Skinny models are looked up to, yet many of them are seriously undernourished. Kids want to emulate their idols, and this is where the danger of them developing bulimia and anorexia starts.

I'm afraid some naturally skinny people ARE models and while it does them no harm, the image they project is harmful to normally curvy youngsters.

As a society we need to strike a balance for the sake of our young. Sorry you felt offended as this was not meant to be aimed at you and people like you, but more at the fashion trade who promote impossibly thin models as the norm.

Kat from USA on October 17, 2012:

Well I'm offended. According your what you've written I'm not "normal" because I'm thin. I'm 5'4" & about 110lbs. which is where I've pretty much always been since I stopped growing & wasn't pregnant.

All 6 of my kids are thin & so is my hubby. So, what, people get to hate on us and call us sick because we aren't curvy enough or we don't have enough fat? It's reverse discrimination.

Yeah, anorexia is bad. Being underweight is bad ~ health-wise it causes huge problems. I'm not saying it isn't a problem for SOME models (and regular folks) but not ALL models are sick just because they are thin.

I appreciate the message you're trying to send, if I got it correctly, which I hope is: Anorexia shouldn't be glorified.

But there is nothing wrong with being skinny.

I'm sorry, when I read this hub I just got the feeling that it was an attack on all thin people and that they couldn't possibly be a good role-model because they don't have enough meat on their bones.... and that it isn't "normal" to be thin, or that skinny people can't be "normal".

Please, correct me if I'm wrong here. I'm not trying to be rude.

Mary from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet. on October 04, 2012:

The role of beauty in today's society has kind of changed for the worst, who in their right mind would think looking like your dieing is sexy, great hub voted up and shared.

Skyler DeCristoforo from Olympia, WA on June 26, 2012:

This is an awesome article, i want to thank you for writing it. I can't tell you how many girls that i know think their too heavy or too fat. I believe they compare themselves to these models, its just ridiculous. I try to tell these girls that i personally find a girl with curves and a little thickness to be way more attractive than skin and bones. I know allot of guys that think the same way i do. A healthy looking woman is a sexy lookin woman

IzzyM (author) from UK on May 20, 2012:

Thanks! Hopefully things will change through public pressure.

Phelcky on May 20, 2012:

I read all the fashion magazines like Elle and Vogue. Sometimes I get chocked, looking at the skinny models stick thin legs. This just isn't healthy! Great Hub IzzyM.

IzzyM (author) from UK on May 14, 2012:

Isn't that just crazy! The whole fashion industry should hang their heads in shame.

2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on May 14, 2012:

Absolutely agree! Some lines of clothing that are popular with teens only go up to middle sizes.

Voted up.

IzzyM (author) from UK on May 14, 2012:

Men need to make that point more often so young girls hear it and listen!

kjrzeek1 from New Jersey, USA on May 13, 2012:

Skinny is so not attractive...If I want to see bones I would go to the museum....I need some curves!

IzzyM (author) from UK on April 13, 2012:

Fair point. Some people are naturally skinny and most of us envy them, especially when they are able to eat a normal diet without ballooning up! Many women look great being really slim too, but we have to be careful because there is a narrow dividing line between being slim and too thin, and models more and more seem to be erring on the wrong side of the divide.

Sarah Carlsley from Minnesota on April 13, 2012:

I think the term 'skinny' is maybe the wrong word for this one. I agree that there are models and celebrities that get looked up to that are far too unhealthy and in that, far too thin. But I don't believe that 'skinny' women as a whole should be put down, because there is something to be said about a 'healthy skinny'.

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 18, 2012:

Yeah thin is fine if it is natural for you. Too many kids think they need to be thin to be loved. It's getting the fine balance between healthy eating and bulimia correct. I know the two shouldn't be related, but the sad fact is that they are. Oh you are correct, too many kids are obese.

b4murray from Massachusetts on February 18, 2012:

I think girls should strive to be healthly and active... Nothing wrong with being thin though. most Americans have the opposite problem. More than half are obese.

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 06, 2012:

We can't, we can only hope that the entertainment industry wakes up, else that we the people continue to point out when a skinny model gets too thin, much as the newspapers are starting to do. There is a fine line between being thin and too thin, and if these models themselves can't see it, how can we expect our teens to know unless we tell them?

lorenmurcia on February 06, 2012:

When I was a teenager, I never bothered with my weight. I was so skinny and my main problem was how to make myself fat. But nowadays, being so thin is what every girl's dream. The thinner, the better. It's appalling.They seem to idolize not only the ones you mentioned but also Angelina Jolie, who, if you care to look at her latest picture, makes you wonder why she is still standing on her feet.

But how can we prevent them from seeing these movie stars and models if at the click of a mouse, they can browse the latest news about them? It's understandable that these skinny women need to be what they are because they have to preserve their beauty because of the nature of their work. I wish we can find or invent more ways to knock some sense on these teen girls emulating these too skinny women.

Voted up, interesting.

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 06, 2012:

I'm off to add another choice into the poll. Had to put in a new poll as editing the old one will wipe the results already polled. The third model in the picture is a famous Spanish model who has a BMI of just 14, which makes her medically underweight, even though to me she looks fine. You can check her story here

Fascinating information you have posted about Auschwitz and their calorie intake, I hope some youngsters read it.

justmesuzanne from Texas on February 05, 2012:

Well, I can't vote in your poll because 2,3 & 4 look too thin to me. #1 may be OK. I'll bet loana Spangenberg had her two lower ribs removed! Your comparison with concentration camp victims is apt. Actually, when Auschwitz was first opened, the calorie allotment for prisoners on light labor was about 1300 calories a day. On hard labor, it was about 1800. This was a diet calculated to keep them able to work for about 3 months, at which point they would begin to decline in health and die! Of course, as time passed and the Germans had fewer and fewer resources, concentration camp inmates were simply starved outright.

Many of these models and people who wish to emulate them believe they are wrong to eat more than 800 calories a day! They treat themselves worse than a concentration camp inmate!

Recently, there were some beautiful photos of a "plus size" model (size 12) circulating on FaceBook for comparison with a size 2 runway model. It was amazing to me how many people thought this beautiful, healthy woman was "fat".

Great article!

Voted up & awesome! :)

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 05, 2012:

You worded that perfectly. 'Bothersome' is the perfect word for the Victoria Beckham photo, IMO. It is hard to put your finger on, but something isn't right, yet millions of teens will aspire to look like that because it is Victoria Beckham. I don't think it is just the media, there is a demand for these photos from youngsters and the media fill the gap. It is quite frightening when you think about it.

bingskee from Quezon City, Philippines on February 05, 2012:

that picture of Victoria is bothersome and that Romanian model's body looks awful!

media is the culprit of all these idolizing the skinny models and actresses. i hope this fad will not last forever as it is victimizing a lot of teens and young women.

if one aims to lose weight for health reasons then it is okay but to loose a lot of weight to look like horrible, then it must be stopped.

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 05, 2012:

Anorexia is a horrible disease and claims so many lives, needlessly. I'm sure there is a lot more to it than just wanting to look like skinny models as I only recently read about a lady doctor dying of anorexia, so it can hit anyone. But I do feel this is a starting point to look at, and indeed probably has been for many years, yet nothing has changed. If anything,models seems to be getting even slimmer.

Elena from London, UK on February 05, 2012:

Lovely and thought provoking lens. Not all skinny women are good role models.

I support Anorexics on Twitter via: Care4Anorexics and I have observed through interaction, that most teens now feel that thin is beautiful because they want to look like "gorgeous celebs" they see on Telly or Mags. They enjoy the torture of not eating.

Great Hub, Izzy. :)

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 04, 2012:

@cycling fitness, excellent input and thanks for commenting :) I also know some women who are ultra-slim but perfectly healthy, and many models look great! Unlike many young people, who are tending to obesity in ever-greater numbers. To teenagers, especially the younger ones, we have to be very careful to not negatively influence their minds because of so many of them becoming anorexic. I honestly think while the vast majority of models are slim and beautiful, some are too thin and still in the public eye. When they get too thin, they should be dropped as quickly as they would be if they get too fat. It's all about balance, but at the end of the days the only 'victims' will be our own young teens.

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 04, 2012:

I have read so many stories about models being told by their agent if they put on so much as an ounce, they will get dropped from the next campaign! I am not seeing many skinny actresses, its only the adverts that sell a lifestyle that features skinny models, and billboards, and teen magazines. I'm thinking too of 13 year olds who haven't finished developing, who may still have some puppy fat. These are the girls who end up anorexic and lacking self-esteem. They are the ones who need to be taught that healthy eating will ensure them the perfect figure, in time, just not at that time. It is difficult to discuss all the ins and outs of this huge field in just one article, or just one comment box, and many thanks for your input :)

Sophia Angelique on February 04, 2012:

Izzy, I truly do not believe that models are the reason young teens want to be slim. That has more to do with the actors on TV and films than actual models. I think people are just jealous of models. Honestly, we have far more exposure to television and movies these days than we have to magazines. Yes, ads use models, but it's not the models - it's the actors. There is also nothing wrong with being that slim. One is supposed to be that slim. And I don't believe that the agencies are doing this. It's the models who are suffering from a lack of self esteem and other psychological issues.

Liam Hallam from Nottingham UK on February 04, 2012:

I think a skinny woman can be a positive role model if she is health and gives an image of being in good health. While i've never personally seen any attraction to Victoria Beckham. It seems that the international media is tranfixed by her (likewise with her husband too who frankly was never that good a footballer to warrant the attention) when in reality a lot of people struggle to understand why.

I've personally dated women who have been UK size 6-8 (I think US 2-4) who have been completely healthy but those around them have never seen the image of health just their slimness to be a sign of under-nourishment. They themselves believed to some extent that the media had poisoned people's perceptions towards their size.

The fashion industry has minimum standards for a reason and therefore I believe that while Ioana Spangenberg gets work she also loses out on a lot of potential work due to being so slim. However sadly the media have once again jumped on a bandwagon with regards to ultra slim models.

When it comes to the previous so-called supermodels very few have actually looked ill and gaunt as for a designer to use ill looking models would give an extremely poor brand image. I've never heard Gisele Bundchen accused of being too slim nor Alessandra Ambrosio either.

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 04, 2012:

LOL, you are lucky coming from a skinny family! The real point is of course that you or your family are not models out there influencing millions of young girls. There are loads of naturally skinny people but models are sometimes too thin because they are pressured to stay light to keep getting work.

Sophia Angelique on February 04, 2012:

Izzy, I was Victoria Beckham's exact proportions until I was about 42 years old. Then I started putting on weight because I read that grains were good for you (They're downright evil). When I had my kid, the day I walked outside the hospital (it was mandatory in South Africa to stay a week), I got back straight into my size 34" trousers. Didn't have a stretch mark or was a pound overweight. A lot of the obesity and pregnancy results are a result of eating badly. Izzy, my sister is 57 years old here and she weighs 108 lbs and is 5'3 1/2"

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 04, 2012:

I quite agree, Rain Defence, and it is mentioned in the body of the hub that being overweight is unhealthy, but there is too thin too. When bones are sticking out, you are too thin. From the role model aspect we need to teach young girls what is a healthy weight, not set them unattainable goals.

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 04, 2012:

Tonu, most people think she is too thin now, she has lost her curves. A bit more fat on her and she'd be fine :)

Rain Defence from UK on February 04, 2012:

I agree with Sophia. Nowadays it's almost fashionable to like fatter women because the average woman is fat. So there are numerous articles out there slating normally sized/slim women as being unhealthy and parading fat women as being happy. I don't think anorexia is a smart choice of course, but I also don't think being medically obese and saying that it doesn't matter is smart either.

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 04, 2012:

So at 5' 5" she should be 120lbs? I would hazard a guess that she weighs a lot less than that in this photo. That's 8.5 stones and I think 7 might be a better guess of her weight. She has certainly got to be less than 8 stones, and at her age and the fact she is a mother 4 times over, 8.5 stones would be considered too light. Ideal weight charts normal have a sliding age and parity scale too.

Tonu1973 from the outer reaches of reality on February 04, 2012:

Ia agree that there is a problem with many models being excessively thin, but I personally think Victoria Beckham is quite attractive and I'm sure if you went to a different pub she might get more support. Thanks for sharing your views on the subject.

Sophia Angelique on February 04, 2012:

Izzy, no I'm not. That is a healthy weight. Here's how it works. This is MEDICALLY the correct weight, or it was until people became so obese that people had to be placated. For the first 5', it's 100 lbs for a woman. For every inch after that, add 5 lb's. Then deduct 5 lbs for a small frame and add 5 lbs for a large frame. That is actually the right weight for. For men, the base weight is 110 lbs for the first 5'. So, a woman who is 5' 6" should weigh 130 lbs and a man who is 6' should weigh 170 lbs.

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 04, 2012:

You are joking, she is all sticky-out bones and at times has looked severely malnourished! She is not as thin as the other one, true!

Sophia Angelique on February 04, 2012:

Victoria Beckham isn't skinny. She is what a normal person should look like. The other model is anorexic.

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 04, 2012:

Thanks for commenting folks! Both of the above models have been in the world's Press recently and sadly they are not alone - they are just too thin!

Maggie Griess from Ontario, Canada on February 04, 2012:

It pains me to look at that model. Is she for real? Role models for teen girls are pretty scarce and this would be one i would hope they had the common sense to avoid.

Mara Clemente from Borinken, Loíza on February 04, 2012:

There was a hub in here published a few days ago in regards to anorexia, I think this one complements it very well! Voted up and following!

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