A New Twist on "the Model Type"

Introduced: July 12 2012

Teen activists are asking magazines not to "photo shop" their models. What is your take on this? And would readers of adult fashion magazines benefit from the same?

If you read these magazines, do they inspire you to be your best? Or do they set an unrealistic expectation that it's a waste of time to try to achieve? Have they been a guiding light to your sense of style and your self image -- or a pain in the neck? Here are the Weigh-In questions: What fashion magazines do you read? In what ways are you influenced by what you read and see? Do you think it is important for young women to have realistic role models for body type? If so, why? Based on your experience with body type, fashion, and self image, what advice can you offer?


Note From IWD: "Weigh-Ins" are no longer an active feature on IWD. Our members expressed a preference for longer dialogues. The content of the previous Weigh-Ins remains on the site for your enjoyment and enlightenment. 

Member Responses


Survey results


The most popular magazines were Elle and In Style – and a write-in – More--  also was popular.


A third of those who responded said they don’t read fashion magazines.


Comments about how fashion magazines influence us:


I like to see what is trendy and use the information to help me make subtle, on trend changes to my mostly classic wardrobe. Fashion magazines aren't filled with high level writing, but there are often articles on a variety of topics that are entertaining and pertain to issues facing many women. I enjoy reading those from time to time. I do not subscribe to any of these publications, but periodically I will pick one up - usually when passing through an airport. I use the fashion information and article information to stay up to date on what's relevant currently. I get ideas before I go shopping.




They sometimes make me buy things I never actually end up wearing. Believe it or not, once when I was traveling in the Southwest, I bought a feather ornament that hung from one ear. Needless to say, it never looked quite right when I returned to Washington, D.C.




I read them for the ads.




Sometimes, they make me laugh. I see them for what they are – fantasies. Even if you did manage to make yourself look like the model in one of those fashion spreads, very few of us would have a social event where it would look “beautiful” instead of ridiculous.  




I think I am past comparing my body to the models in magazines, but I can see where young girls may do that.




The thing they make me buy most is beauty products.




Too little time to spend on them. I’d rather read something else. No – ANYTHING else.




 Everyone who answered agreed the young women should have realistic fashion models






I firmly believe every woman is beautiful, the trick when we are young is figuring out what it is about ourselves that makes us beautiful and then playing up that attribute .... and I'm not talking just physical beauty here, although I do believe every woman has at least one physically gorgeous thing about her. My advice is to try to be your best self in terms of health, education, friends, you name it. By doing this, you stand a better chance of learning what makes you beautiful as a person and what makes you beautiful physically. Once you know that, celebrate it for all to see.

I would say: Concentrate on something besides your body. Like your brain or your friends or helping others.



Like Coco Chanel said – “Fashion changes, but style endures.” My advice is don’t be concerned with fashion. Try to develop your own authentic style.

Note from IWD: Here’s another relevant Coco Chanel quote:  “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”



I’d tell a young girl – if you saw those models on the street, chances are they’d look just like anybody else.




Other comments:


I wouldn’t admit this to anyone I know – but I can admit it here. I think I have been somewhat affected by images in fashion magazines. While I have gone about my life and my career, taking care of daily details and not-so-glamorous activities (as we all do) in a fairly upbeat way, the images on those pages have made me think there is a sultry, smokey perfectly toned and turned-out woman inside this very normal, slightly imperfect package.  I have things hanging in my closet that would have looked great on that women, but I have not yet been able to uncover her.



What an interesting question! These are the thoughts we usually only share with ourselves. You kind of learn to copy with self criticism and still move along through life. So as I was thinking about it and doing a little digging and was shocked to read some of the findings of a survey by Glamour magazine – especially a study they quoted by the University of Central Florida study. They studied three- to six-year-old girls, and found that nearly half were already worried about being fat—and roughly a third said they wanted to change something about their body. What? What??? How can that be happening?

Note from IWD: We checked into the study mentioned by this member and found that Glamour also studied the messages that women send themselves. They found that 97% of those interviewed thought at least once a day “I hate my body.” 
Read More http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/2011/02/shocking-body-image-news-97-percent-of-women-will-be-cruel-to-their-bodies-today#ixzz21gvRXS7f




The young girl who started the movement to end photo shop has done an admirable thing. Seventeen doesn’t need to use photoshop --  with a culture that encourages and rewards working out, there are enough naturally fit people around to fill the pages. I am amazed all the time at the number of young women who have bodies only super stars used to have.

Note from IWD: Here is what Seventeen magazine has pledged: "We vow to ... never change girls' body or face shapes. (Never have, never will).” The magazine is issuing a "Body Peace Treaty" in the August edition. More than 84,000 people signed teenager Julia Bluhm’s petition on Change.org.




This isn’t the only “girl-driven” move to change the way society thinks about and treats women. Here's another: http://www.sparksummit.com/




Young women are very impressionable, so having a role model who is impossible to emulate is potentially harmful. On the other side, though, I think we tend to get overly worked up on this topic. Not everyone can be a model, that's just the way it goes.


Our parents tell us we can do what ever we wish, which is true to a point. We can do whatever we wish with the gifts we are given. That's true for any young woman. Our gifts are our own and although they may not be model looks, height and weight, the trick is to identify our unique gifts and use them to achieve our goals.


Photoshopping images of young models, or older ones for that matter, just doesn't seem like that big of a deal. It didn't when I was young and it doesn't now. My wedding pictures were tweaked with PhotoShop and they are beautiful, but I still look like me. Similarly, I have used the program to work on images I took of my family members. In many ways, the changes (remove red eye, reduce greasiness of skin, take off moles, take off pimples) helped the self image of those in the pictures, including my two teenage step daughters.


 I think magazines targeting young women have done a pretty good job with the messaging inside. The articles are about athletic young women or brave or smart or all the above. Girls are going to find information about how to be skinnier or on plastic surgery or on what ever thing they are into. A quick Google search on how to lose weight will provide myriad sites dedicated to starvation techniques. The best thing adult women can do is teach young women to celebrate their own talents and gifts and feel confident about those.




I know that admitting to watching The Bachelor (occasionally) on a web site for Intelligent Women is a bit of a contradiction, but I wonder at the parade of bodies that takes place season after season. After noticing that, I saw an item from a blogger named naughtynicerob@aol.com quotes a former contestant saying that the point of the show is to show the best eligible people trying to find each other and he doubts they’ll ever feature a plus-size cast.




Note from IWD: For those of you currently raising teenage girls, here is a little more information about a trend CNN identified a few months ago – and that is teenage girls posting videos on You Tube asking people to comment on their appearance. Here’s the link and a little information from the CNN item: http://inamerica.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/03/on-youtube-teens-ask-the-world-am-i-ugly/

Dr. Barbara Greenberg, a clinical psychologist specializing in treating teens and author of the blog, Talking Teenage, and the best-selling “Teenage as a Second Language: Teaching Parents To Become Bilingual,” says the trend is a symptom of an “unwritten social rule among women.”

“We’re taught to be demure and self effacing,” says Greenberg. “It’s socially inappropriate for a woman to say they feel good about their body.” Add to that the contagious nature of teenage trends, the feeling of anonymity that accompanies people’s online behavior and the “parenting fail” of insufficient supervision, and Greenberg says you have a “recipe for disaster” for teenage girls.

“They’re very young, very naïve and very unaware of the fact they’re prompting a stream of vicious attacks,” Greenberg says of “Am I Ugly” posters adding this raises the risk for eating disorders, body dysmorphic

Comedienne, blogger and self-proclaimed voice of “vigilante feminism,” Margaret Cho has been outspoken about overcoming her own body issues.

In a post on her website, she told teens to take the videos down: "You don’t need people to tell you how beautiful you are on there. You don’t need to put yourself in the position to be judged that way. You are better than that and you deserve the very best in life."

“I’m trying to reach out to young people through blogging, through my standup comedy and let them know that they’re perfect the way they are,” Cho recently told CNN. “I don’t want them to wait ‘til they’re mid-40s to realize it, because you waste your whole life thinking that there’s something wrong with you.”