06/02/2014 09:31 am ET Updated Jun 02, 2014

How The 'Skinny Standard' Is Denying Women Their Complexity

Josiah Kamau via Getty Images

Some will contest that the fixation on thin and toned in mass media has to do with escapism. We don’t watch a movie or TV show to see a repeat of what we already encounter on a daily basis, they might say. We do it to get away from all that, into a magical parallel universe that’s similar to ours, but the colors are brighter, the people are prettier, and the unpleasant bits can be montaged through if necessary.

(This article is Part II in a series, read Part I here.)

Fine. But if we can shed our expectations about Gerard Butler Falcon-kicking people into bottomless pits orJohn Cusack holding up a boom box outside our window, why can’t we do the same with the expectation that all valuable and interesting women should look like Olivia Wilde or Jessica Alba? Our ability to decipher between fantasy and reality is inconsistent, and seems to be impeded further by repeated exposure to this thin ideal.

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