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Skinny Girls, the New Hollywood Icons - Lindsay Lohan, Mary-Kate, and More

Skinny Girls, the New Hollywood Icons - Lindsay Lohan, Mary-Kate, and More

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Eating disorders have always been a part of Hollywood culture for stars of all ages, descriptions, and genders.  Hollywood's obsession with being thin was catapulted into the public's awareness with the 1983 death of singer Karen Carpenter, who died of anorexia nervosa.  Over the next couple of decades, stars of all ages (including Paula Abdul, Jane Fonda, Elton John, Tracy Gold, Wynona Judd, Sharon Osbourne, and Oprah Winfrey) were rumored to have food and weight issues.   However, while eating disorders are certainly not limited to any one age group, the current decade has witnessed a change in body-consciousness trends: super skinny, super young celebrities are now it.  Numerous celebs, some as young as 15, have achieved tabloid fame because of their questionably-thin frames:

  • Miley Cyrus - age 15; rumored to diet and undergo personal training.
  • Mary-Kate Olsen - age 21; underwent treatment for anorexia. 
  • Lindsay Lohan - age 21; rumored to have an eating disorder; also underwent drug rehab.   
  • Keira Knightley - age 23; rumored to have an eating disorder.
  • Kate Bosworth - age 25; rumored to have an eating disorder.
  • Nicole Richie - age 26; underwent treatment for weight issues.   
  • Paris Hilton - age 27; rumored to have an eating disorder.   

What is going on in Hollywood that is causing stars to pursue such extreme thinness at such young ages?

Staying on Hollywood's Hot List - Unattainable Beauty Standards

There seem to be three overarching rules a celeb must follow to remain ahead of her peers in Hollywood: stay young, stay thin, stay beautiful.  These rules dictate, and are dictated by, cultural norms about beauty:

The fountain of youth - It seems the average age of a star is decreasing, which would increase the pressure to remain young looking.  This would also increase competition among 20-somethings to be more attractive than their peers, pushing them to take drastic measures to be noticeably thin.

Raising the bar on thinness - It's been said that you can't be too rich or too thin; apparently Hollywood is taking this adage literally.  Stars strive to meet the standard of thinness, no matter how high the bar is set. 

Celebrity scandals - It seems that, nowadays, it is not enough to be famous.  A star has to have a scandal attached to her name to stand out from her peers.  Think "Paris Hilton sex tape." 

Cultural ideals about weight -

According to a report in the American Journal of Psychiatry, anorexia and bulimia affect about 5 to 7 percent of American females.  This statistic, combined with the obesity epidemic, highlights American culture's conflicting ideals about weight and beauty.

The Bottom Line: Celebrities and Beauty Myths Exposed

What can really be said in response to these bizarre statistics and unreachable beauty standards?  One may argue the pointlessness and transient nature of beauty ideals and media's distorted presentation of celebrities.  Or one could take the opposite approach, suggesting that the cure America's weight problem lies in using celebrity photos to promote weight loss.  In the end, the answer may not be clear cut.

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