Though correspondents agreed that obsession with unrealistic body images among girls and young women is disturbing (PEOPLE, June 3), many argued that PEOPLE was being hypocritical in decrying the problem, since it is part of the media that foster these images. Others, however, complimented us for exploring the issue.
TOO FAT? TOO THIN?
I can't tell you how much I applaud your cover story. I'm a 15-year-old girl and have been recovering from anorexia and bulimia for more than two years. It is a horrible feeling being trapped in your body with no escape and crying an entire night in fear of gaining weight because you ate an apple. In the last two years my life has improved so much since I've received treatment, but the truth is, the problem never goes away.
JESSICA ROSMAN, Henderson, Nev.
Let the industry power brokers point fingers. The truth is that the responsibility lies squarely at the feet of the American consumer. We are quick to decry the effects images have on our teenagers. We also cry foul at the sex and violence the media serve up to our youth. We should not lose sight of the fact that we are not a captive audience. Quite simply, the media will only sell what we are willing to buy.
I will make this article required reading for my students in nutrition and health. Many of them eat fewer than 1,000 calories a day and choose nutrient-poor diets. Then they wonder why they feel tired, lack the ability to concentrate and struggle with colds and flu viruses. Thanks for a great story!
Georgia State University, Atlanta
Your May 6 cover featured the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World." Then, after Americans had a month to pity themselves, you followed with a cover story decrying the fact that American girls are dissatisfied with themselves because they can't compare to the people the media glorify. You help create the problem and then piously feign concern over the results of your conduct.
I appreciate your efforts to draw attention to the problems faced by those of us who have been taught to hate our appearance. I was distressed, however, by your inability, or unwillingness, to acknowledge the elephant in the living room. Media images of beauty persist and proliferate only because they make money for somebody. Beauty, fitness, fashion, cosmetic surgery, diets and even therapies are all thriving industries that advertise heavily.
JANE DELGADO, Santa Cruz, Calif.
I've got a great idea! Instead of just publishing articles on this country's obsession with thinness, why don't you become the first magazine to stop routinely reporting the heights and weights of celebrities?
CARLA MAST, Atlanta
Unless the numbers are germane, PEOPLE no longer reports the weights of its story subjects.—ED.
I find it interesting that your "Too Fat? Too Thin?" issue included an ad for IN STYLE featuring the cover story "Hollywood's Hottest Bodies: How They Slim Down, Shape Up and Stay Sexy." Obviously the money is green on both sides of the fence.
JANET OVERBEY, San Mateo, Calif.
I am a 15-year-old aspiring actor and for as long as I can remember, I have equated being thin with being happy. Articles like yours help a little, but no amount of reassurance from anyone can convince me I am thin enough, beautiful enough or smart enough.
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
After seeing newscasters snicker at Alicia Silverstone and compare her to a pig, is it any wonder that young people are so concerned with how they look and what others think of them?
LAURA E. WADE, West Hempstead, N.Y.
A standing ovation for your eye-opening feature about beauty standards set by the entertainment and fashion industries. Collectively, the Women's Committees—of which I am the chair—of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are working to combat the handicaps that are imposed on actresses by media stereotypes. Body image is at the top of our agenda, and we strive to play down and ultimately eliminate the distorted concept of how the ideal woman should look.
JACKIE JOSEPH, Los Angeles
All the statistics and people telling me I'm beautiful no matter what I weigh aren't going to change what my 12-and 13-year-old friends say and think.
VICKIE ELLIKER, Racine, Wis.
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