- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 28, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Hollywood seems to be producing more shrinking starlets these days. The female stars of shows like “Gossip Girl” and a revamped “Beverly Hills 90210” are thin, too thin. The scary part is that these shows are aimed at adolescent and teen-age girls. Both shows portray the lives of American teenagers in a glamorous albeit fake world. But, while girls might be reared to separate the glam life from reality, body image is one of Hollywood and Madison Avenue’s favorite projections.

The new “90210,” whose successful appeal is to females in the 18-34 demographic, has taken the most heat lately for the Hollywood trend. Shenae Grimes, Jessica Stroup and Anna Lynne McCord are so thin that the stars of the show have even been criticized by Hollywood media for their figures. Hollywood gossip magazine US Weekly has estimated that two stars of the show Jessica Stroup, age 21, is 5‘8” but weighs 100-05 pounds while Grimes, age 18, is 5‘3” and weighs 90 pounds Popeater, a Hollywood pop -culture-focused blog, said the girls should eat a hamburger. The fact of the matter is that the actresses are even too thin for Hollywood standards.

Hollywood has always tried to entertain audiences by showing a life that is different from the everyday. It would appear that it has gone too far. Consider that 50 percent of the women in America wear a size 14 or larger, according to Radar Programs.

As recently as the 1990s in Hollywood, the ideal was a size 6, while the blessed were a size 4. Today, the ideal size is a 2 and the dream is a size 0. An actresses’ size in Hollywood is like a status symbol - the smaller the woman, the more bankable. There are a few fuller-figured actresses such as Queen Latifah, but since the ideal size for actresses has decreased, the definition of a full-figured woman has shrunk too. In cycle 10 of the popular “America’s Next Top Model,” the winner, Whitney Thompson was considered a full-figured woman at a size 8-10. The show appeals to women ages 18-34, but so does Seventeen magazine, which is the leader in the 18-24-year-old female market.

Hollywood presents a warped view of life and history, but most adults are smart enough to know that. But its presentation of the ideal body size isn’t healthy. Insular Hollywood has always had a problem with presenting images that were completely out of touch with the people it entertains. Young women should be encouraged to look at other role models. Being a teenager or middle schooler should include eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without feeling guilty - not obsessing about a size 0.

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