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The harm of phony mag photos

This undated image provided by H M shows plus-size model Jennie Runk who is size 12 or 14 swimsuit ad

This undated image provided by H&M shows plus-size model Jennie Runk, who is a size 12 or 14, in a swimsuit ad from 2012. The European-based retailer sells trendy clothing in the U.S. equivalent of sizes 1 throughout 16. "Our aim is not to convey a certain message or show an ideal but to have a campaign which can illustrate the collection in an inspiring and clear way," said Andrea Roos, an H&M press officer. (AP Photo/H&M) ORG XMIT: NY718

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Updated: February 20, 2014 6:22AM

Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten so cranky when ABC legal analyst Dan Abrams said on “Good Morning America” earlier this week that “he doesn’t have a problem” with Photoshopped photos in women’s magazines.

I can’t remember if I got on Twitter and called him a fool after he whined, “Can’t we just accept that we don’t believe these magazines are necessarily real?” Or after he suggested that we explain to girls, “This is an idealistic way to look.”

If Abrams’ comments, rejected by the rest of the GMA crew, were just evidence of one more guy who likes to look at fantasy women, maybe I could roll my eyes and let it go. But these altered images are damaging when you consider the very real and enormous pressure young girls and women feel to meet impossible standards when it comes to their bodies.

Cosmo and the rest of “those types of magazines” — as Abrams dismissively referred to them — have a huge impact on females, agrees Holly Herrington, a registered dietitian with Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Center for Lifestyle Medicine. In her work, Herrington encounters young — and old — females dealing with body issues.

“Absolutely,” females are influenced by the “unrealistic images” they see day in and day out, Herrington says. And while she says most adults can look at the photos and determine they have to be enhanced, “an 8-year-old, 10-year-old, 14-year-old girl does not see that.”

They figure that’s what they have to attain “to be as wonderful” as their favorite star, according to Herrington, adding, “a young girl cannot see that difference.”

Females are bombarded by unrealistic images, and they’re everywhere. It’s not just fashion magazines. Pick up any of the what’s purported to be health/fitness magazines and you’re likely to see a celeb with washboard abs rather than someone of strength and health on the cover. After every celebrity pregnancy, the star is trotted out to show she has a killer body again in record time, as if there’s a Nobel Prize for rapid weight loss.

All the while, young females are taking this baloney in and getting the wrong idea on what their bodies can and should be. Is it any wonder they feel they should use social media to criticize each other when they don’t meet these standards?

Oh sure, there are celebrities who have somewhat normal or even larger bodies. “But they are few and far between,” Herrington says, so females don’t always consider them as people to emulate. And they themselves often become the butt of jokes, as Gabourey Sidibe did last week after her appearance at the Golden Globes (although she handled it with style).

Even what seems like a step forward can turn into a misstep that sends the wrong message. Earlier this month, the H&M clothing chain showed plus-size clothing in its latest catalog, but the model wearing it obviously was not plus. If what looks like a size 10 is being called plus size, “What does that say about the rest of us?” Herrington asks.

Nah, I’m right. Abrams is a fool, and these altered and unrealistic images are wrong, wrong, wrong.


Twitter: @SueOntiveros

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