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According to the British Government, the growing pressure on women to be thin is damaging their health and stripping them of their self-esteem.

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Introduction

According to the British Government, the growing pressure on women to be thin is damaging their health and stripping them of their self-esteem. On June 21, 2000, ministers of the government, including Tessa Jowell, the Minister for Women, hosted the Body Image Summit in London. It aimed to consider the effects of advertising on teenage girls and women in the hopes of developing an agreement from within these industries to incorporate a social and ethical awareness in their promotional activities. The Summit brought together leading figures from the fashion industry and the publishing industry to discuss the problem along with ordinary British teenagers who were invited to explain how the pressure to be thin affects their life. The medical industry are also concerned that images of thin fashion models and the rise of the so-called "superwaif" are to blame for an increase in eating disorders among young women. An estimated one million people in the UK are anorexic or bulimic, although few sufferers are actually diagnosed or treated ("BBC News"). Anne Marie Cussins, author of the article, "The Role of Body Image in Women's Mental Health", has contributed to an understanding of why women are suffering from eating disorders. ...read more.

Middle

In a culture such as this, women may feel forced by cultural projections into either a position of conformity or rebellion and denial. It seems that no matter which path a woman may choose, she may very well be criticized externally for her identifications with the male fantasy. Cussins firm belief on gender with reference to the study of female sexuality is just what society needs. There is a need for women to segregate themselves from male communication in order to independently map out their gender identity. Although Cussins makes a well-researched point, she failed to include a significant support group for her case: The Riot Girl Movement. This movement was specially formed to encourage women to resist the dominant culture by removing themselves from male discourses. It bolsters women to declare themselves, support one another and express their emotions on their own terms. It is concerned with issues such as rape, homophobia, sexuality, feminism, abortion, women's subordination, eating disorders, body image, and fat oppression. This movement helps young women avoid, and actively resist the dominant culture that requires their obedience and their subordination. It promotes awareness of the restrictive nature of such a role in a dominant culture. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is where her drive for writing this article became evident. In her experience, Cussins facilitated a homogenous group of women with eating problems and helped them understand the effects of their culture on the way they interpret society and themselves. Cussins gives the impression that by facilitating this group therapy session, she realized how large and widely dispersed this issue is on teenagers and women across the country. The Summit provided the country with information pertaining to the effects of advertising images on teenage girls and women, but what was lacking in the Summit were the other possible reasons for why teenage girls and women are suffering from eating disorders, like culture and maternal introject. Cussins developed an article with extensive research on these two possibilities and provided the country with more information regarding this issue. Cussins gave the impression that the article is illustrative of a feminist critique because of the arguments she used to support her ideas, but it was not intended. She wrote the article to further support the Summit by researching more on the topic. Cussins knew this issue was greater than what it seemed. She knew that it needed more attention and a great deal of more research. It's not enough for these women to believe that the media is the cause for their eating disorders. ...read more.

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