Equality Rights Alliance are running a campaign to fight negative body image for young women. We want positive body images in the media that show the diversity of natural, real beauty. So we’ve got postcards distributed through AvantCard, and online (http://iwd.equalityrightsalliance.org.au).
We’re asking Minister Peter Garrett (as Minister for Youth) to commit to promoting 100 fashion industry organisations who comply with the Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image launched in June 2010. We want positive body image to become the new standard for representing women in media. Healthy and attainable body image will only become the new media standard if we, the consumers of media, demand it. A voluntary code that asks the media to promote positive body image will not be enough to achieve real change.
Guides Australia put out a report today showing that body image is a major concern for young girls. Australian Guides Say 2010 is a report on the findings of a comprehensive survey of more than 4,239 girls aged 5 to 30 years. Interesting for the representation of women in media:
• 63% of girls aged 10-14, and 75% of those aged 18-30, believe that the media think being “pretty and thin” is the most important thing for girls.
• Pressure to look good was also one of the top 10 worst things about being a girl
It’s not just little girls who feel it. According to Mission Australia’s National Survey of Young Australians 2010, body image is the top personal concern among 11-24 year old young Australians. This highly regarded survey had 50,240 participants, with 53.9% of the respondents being female.
The extremes of unhealthy eating – anorexia nervosa and bulimia – are not just 1980’s teen girl hot topics. They’re a growing problem in modern Australian society. Approximately one in 100 adolescent girls develop anorexia nervosa, making it the third most common chronic illness in girls, after obesity and asthma. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, with a death rate higher than that of major depression.
Equality Rights Alliance hope that a flood of postcards into the Minister's office will show that we want positive body image to become the new standard for women's representation in media, not something that only a few fashion magazines and advertising agencies do to win a symbolic award.