Now, of course, education about the dangers of obsessive dieting or exercise is widespread, and information about eating disorders, their addictive nature, and how to treat them is available in every bookstore, as well as in middle schools, doctors’ offices, gyms, high schools, and sororities. This, now, is progress. Yet, on the down side, those very disorders are now so wide spread—and, in fact, almost destigmatized by such intense publicity—that they have become virtually normal.
Not only do whole sororities take for granted that bulimia is mainstream behavior, but models now openly talk to Glamour magazine about their starvation regimes. A newspaper feature about a group of thin, ambitious young women talking about weight, quotes one of them as saying, “Now what’s wrong with throwing up?” And “pro-an” Web sites have appeared on the Internet, indicating a subculture of girls who are “pro-anorexia,” who find the anorexic look appealing and validate it. This is definitely not progress.
When the beauty myth was analyzed in the early nineties, the ideal was, as I have noted, quite rigid. Older women’s faces were almost never portrayed in magazines, and if they were, they had to be air brushed to look younger.