Independent (UK) 17 October 2010
Watching stick-thin frames will have an impact on women’s health, a new scientific paper claims. Aric Sigman, a psychologist who wrote the report, is urging the Government to intervene over the prevalence of thin women on television because he believes there is clear evidence to show that the abundance of skinny women on screen has become a medical issue. He wants the Department of Health to issue “assertive guidance” on the impact of images on female health, claiming the effects are strong and immediate. The relationship between media and body image has previously been treated as a psychological, cultural or political debate – as opposed to biological. “Of course one isn’t blaming it [body dissatisfaction and eating disorders] entirely on the media, but it is a very powerful link in that chain and it has evaded the degree of importance that it has to accept,” said Dr Sigman, who has collated research from across the globe for a paper in The Biologist, the journal of the Society of Biology. “The idea that the media is being used as a scapegoat and that it’s the whipping boy of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders is not an acceptable riposte any more. Times have changed.” Dr Sigman, who believes children under three should not be allowed to watch TV, said images of thin women would always exist. But he claimed the “sheer number” of unnaturally thin women combined with the access girls had to images made it a “very significant health issue”.