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Mirror, Mirror

Feb. 26, 2008 — Waiting in the check-out line at the market, it’s hard to miss the messages whispering from the magazine covers:

“Slim down for summer!”

“Bikini abs and butt!”

“Drop a size fast!”

In other words, get busy getting beautiful, trim, and do it fast. Researchers report that women’s magazines have ten and a half times more ads and articles promoting weight loss than men’s magazines do and over three-quarters of the covers of women’s magazines include at least one message about how to change a woman’s bodily appearance-by diet, exercise or cosmetic surgery. Twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8 per cent less than the average woman, but today’s models weigh 23 per cent less. Real women’s bodies have become invisible in the mass media.

To explore the power of the body in shaping feelings of self-worth, control and identity, the Tanner Humanities Center is hosting a conference on body image March 5 and 6 at the University of Utah. The conference, titled “Mirror, Mirror: Body in the Mind’s Eye,” will feature current and former athletes, filmmakers, scholars and authors from around the U.S. who will discuss the multi-faceted role of the human body in society and culture. The event is free and open to the public.

The David P. Gardner Lecture and keynote address will be given by Rose Weitz, professor of women and gender studies at Arizona State University and author of numerous books including The Politics of Women’s Bodies: Appearance, Sexuality, and Behavior and Rapunzel’s Daughters: What Women’s Hair Tells Us About Women’s Lives. Weitz’s research explores women, health and the body. The lecture, titled “Eve’s Daughters: A Cultural History of Women’s Bodies,” will be held on Wednesday, Mar. 5 at 7p.m. at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts Dumke Auditorium.

Panel discussions will be held on Thursday, Mar. 6 at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts Dumke Auditorium and will address a variety of issues related to body image including: faith and the body, beauty cultures, body image of male and female athletes and men and body image.

The conference will conclude with a full screening of the documentary Do I Look Fat” on Mar. 6 at 6p.m. at the Olpin Union Theatre. Through the personal stories of seven diverse gay men, the film explores the struggles each have experienced with eating disorders and body image issues.

For additional information or to arrange an interview with Rose Weitz, contact Kimi Barnett at 801-585-9341 or visit http://www.thc.uta