Interesting letter last week by young Zoe Story wondering why women feel compelled to respond to media models which require them to reconfigure their bodies into abnormal anorexic toothpicks. I think I can assure her that, with respect to women's body shapes, most men are programmed by nature to prefer well-shaped curves.
Clearly the entertainment media is engaged in creating artificial appearance and behavior standards that are impossible for young women to comply with, despite their efforts to conform to the presumed peer-based cultural norm.
It's also evident that these impossible models of thinness are driven in response to advertising revenue from corporations. Their purpose is to sell the products and diet programs supposedly necessary to achieve the desired look. Of course only a few young women reach that goal; the others are trapped on the self-generating purchasing treadmill until and if they break free.
Naturally, other age groups are subjected to their own social conditioning, ranging from the proper model of trucks (Dodge Ram) and beer for young men to the proper brand of performance enhancer (Cialis), miraculously rejuvenating old body organs.
So, welcome to the modern world of electronic social conditioning.
I recently read that American adolescents spend hours a day texting, twittering, You-tubing, etc., in satisfying their urge for social consensus. With millions of them linked together they have the dynamic capacity to modify their values literally instantaneously. Unfortunately for us older folks, the reversed baseball caps and precariously low-hanging trousers are such visible symbols of adolescent rebellion and peer identification that they'll probably be around for awhile.
Anyway, when the linked-in generation is eventually forced to confront the failure of its parents' and grandparents' generations to solve the world's impending disasters, then thoughtful, young, wired-in persons such as Zoe might provide the spark of rationality and focus to turn her peers on a dime, allowing the spontaneously release of innovative energy from their re-wired multi-tasking brains necessary to preserve the planet.
One can always hope.