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Your Body: Reality vs. Fantasy

Written by Lauren Long

A poll found that women feel put down by media images of perfection. Time to turn off your TV and tune into yourself.

Are you looking in the mirror and coming up short? or fat? Maybe you are comparing yourself with an unreal standard.

In a telephone survey, People magazine asked 1,000 women about their bodies and whether media images of women from Hollywood, television, fashion magazines and advertising affect their self-esteem.

What's the effect of so many skinny celebrities?*
37 percent said they were bothered by images of women on TV and in movies
24 percent disliked the images in fashion magazines
19 percent were offended by images in advertising

While 10 percent of the respondents said they were completely satisfied with their bodies, 80 percent said media images of women make them feel insecure about their appearance. Not surprising when, say, Jennifer Aniston drops 30 pounds, and the reward is Superstardom.

"The problem is that all these images do have an effect on self-esteem," says Dr. Barbara Levy, a gynecologist in Seattle and a co-founder of the Real Women Project, a resource center for self-esteem.

"We're never good enough because we are comparing ourselves with a 'norm' that is not real. When we look at TV or magazines, those images have been modified and computer-enhanced and airbrushed. Or makeup artists have worked hours on someone," she says.

What would you do to be thin?
93 percent had tried to lose weight
35 percent had tried over-the-counter pills
34 percent had or would consider having cosmetic surgery
34 percent would be willing to try a diet even if it posed at least a slight health risk
16 percent had tried prescription diet pills
12 percent consider smoking a method to lose weight

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