Has an emancipated women's body become "normal"?

(75 Posts)
MadonnaKebab Thu 14-Mar-13 09:09:35

At a museum today I saw lots of photos of prisoners of war liberated from Japanese camps
The men were shockingly, horribly emancipated
At first glance the (nursing corps) women didn't look too bad
But when I compared scrawny limbs , exposed collarbones etc I realised that they were in fact equally malnourished
It was just that after years of seeing photos of Hollywood stars etc, this undernourished look has almost become acceptable to me (but only on a woman )
I scared myself (as a mother of a DD) that my "acceptable" has become warped like this

Bonsoir Thu 14-Mar-13 09:11:26

I think you mean "emaciated", not emancipated...

MmeLindor Thu 14-Mar-13 09:15:04

<prepares for flood of 'I think you mean emaciated not emancipated' posts>

Interesting point. I think that there is a gap between the perceived 'normal' and the reality. While the pics in magazines are getting thinner, we as a nation, are getting fatter.

wrongsideoftheroad Thu 14-Mar-13 09:15:12

Clicked on the thread as I couldn't make out why I couldn't make sense of the title!

But in answer to whether an emaciated body has become normal...I'm in two minds really...on a hollywood celeb/model I might expect a certain body size, but wouldn't expect the same of a mum on the school run, if that makes sense?

I have two friends with ectomorph body types who are both very, very slim and quite tall. Within about a week of having each of their babies they were back to their (entirely natural for them) very slim sizes and I would say they are noticably very thin, to the point that people notice and talk about it (not in a derogatory way).

MmeLindor Thu 14-Mar-13 09:16:37

Yes, Xpost with Wrongside.

I think we have got used to seeing images of emaciated bodies in the media, and you're right in that it send a bad message. But then again, what we are used to seeing in the media and in real life aren't really the same thing. When I see super-skinny folk on TV I don't think twice about it, but when I see super-skinny people in real life it's definitely something I do notice, like your school run mums.

It's the same as how in real life I'm used to cars being on the left-hand side of the road, but because we watch so much American TV, I'm more used to seeing cars drive on the right, so on TV cars on the left look odd.

They're two different realities - one which is real life and one which is TV fantasy.

That's not to say that the subliminal messages from the fantasy world don't seep through to tell us we're not good enough, and that looking like a malnourished prisoner of war is the ideal.

sad

popularmost Thu 14-Mar-13 09:23:32

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MadonnaKebab Thu 14-Mar-13 09:25:34

Sorry about the autocorrect-related confusion
Glad you could still understand my confused point!

MadonnaKebab Thu 14-Mar-13 09:30:42

The point I was tying to express was that this extreme point of undernourishment was obvious to me on a man, but I failed to recognise it on a woman, which makes me worry that we could fail to pick up anorexia in our DDs because of the photos of famous women that we are bombarded with.
Badly expressed obviously

popularmost Thu 14-Mar-13 09:30:56

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I do get your point though.

MadonnaKebab Thu 14-Mar-13 09:51:48

Anorexia may not be the most common problem
But it is a problem
And it kills young women more rapidly than obesity does
I don't think that the fact that obesity is more common, would be considered a valid point to negate concerns about HIV , skin cancer or anything else less prevalent than obesity

MadonnaKebab Thu 14-Mar-13 09:57:14

Plus, as Annie says, the more widespread effect on perfectly normal-sized women and girls being made to feel inadequate against an unhealthy ideal

Bonsoir Thu 14-Mar-13 10:00:57

The problem with weight/body size is the same problem that most people seem to struggle with: moderation and being normal. We live in a society that sends constant messages about how we need to "shine", "be exceptional", "excel", "find our talents", "be famous". Being normal, moderate and leading a normal, moderate life is despised. Excess is all - and that is reflected in people's eating habits.

juneau Thu 14-Mar-13 10:03:10

I honestly think obesity is a far greater problem. Anorexia has always been around and models/actresses have been unnaturally thin for several decades.

However, I do take your point that perhaps we're so used to seeing unnaturally thin women in the media that the images have lost the ability to shock us - or even register that they're abnormal. Having said that, the recent photos of part-time anorexic Nicole Richie made me shake my head, as does any photo of her mentor Rachel Zoe. That anyone can want to look like such a scrawny bag of bones as they do, is beyond me.

drjohnsonscat Thu 14-Mar-13 10:07:10

popularmost I think that's almost the point though. That body shape is not particularly common (actually never has been if my family photos are anything to go by - lots of turn of the century women looking rather stocky). But we now read it as the norm and everyone else is therefore "off".

Obviously obesity carries its own health problems but just being a normal , slightly fat or slightly thin woman doesn't. The problems madonna is referring to are the problems related to (mostly) women's inability to accept their normal bodies as the norm. We don't count the cost of this to the NHS but in misery terms, it's quite significant.

devilinside Thu 14-Mar-13 10:21:56

Couldn't agree more. If you look at old photos of princess Diana, she looks a bit podgy, compared to today's standards. although at the time everyone said how thin she was. Shows how our peceptions have changed in such a short time

popularmost Thu 14-Mar-13 10:22:20

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Bearing in mind anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all mental health problems, yes it is a problem.

And even if anorexia isn't something you are aware of everyday, you don't know that you aren't seeing anorexic (or bulimic or ED-NOS sufferers), they don't wear badges FFS.

MmeLindor Thu 14-Mar-13 10:43:55

Obesity and anorexia are not two separate issues.

The problem with the image of the undernourished models is that it strongly suggests that this is an ideal, to which we should aim.

For many girls this leads to body confidence issues, as this 'ideal' is one that is either genetic or achieved by relentless dieting, and calorie restriction, which can lead to eating disorders.

Eating disorders that may manifest as anorexia, bulimia - and some say as obesity.

I think some of you may be missing the point. Yes, obesity is a big problem, and more widespread than anorexia. But that has nothing to do with the fact that we are now so conditioned to seeing images of horribly underweight women in the media that we don't recognise malnourishment in women the same way that we do in men. The obesity argument is a red herring.

Perhaps one of the reasons more people are obese is that we know we can never "look beautiful" in the same way as the women in the media so we don't even bother trying.

MmeLindor Thu 14-Mar-13 10:52:14

Exactly, Annie.

It is every dieter's Monday morning. 'I am going to look like X'

Monday and Tues you only eat salad and tasteless Ryvita.

Wednesday, you step on scales. Bugger. Put on a pound.

Thursday. Invited out to lunch. Fuck it. Have been starving all week and haven't lost any weight. Gorge.

Repeat weekly till you can't look in the mirror without cringing.

popularmost Thu 14-Mar-13 10:53:02

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popularmost Thu 14-Mar-13 10:54:35

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drjohnsonscat Thu 14-Mar-13 10:54:40

also this is only part to do with anorexia. this is about ordinary women with perfectly normal fat/thin/whatever bodies carrying the burden of this extreme thinness as a norm. Most people don't go on to develop anorexia - but there is a huge amount of body dissatisfaction out there which is entirely destructive and unhelpful.

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