By Caroline Connolly
LEHI, Utah -- As the models made their way down the runway at a fashion show held at Thanksgiving Point, it was not the clothing that was on display, but the challenges faced by the modern-day women who took center stage.
"Society teaches us a certain type of beauty is the thin, perfect person that doesn't exist," said Robyn Cooper, 20, an audience member who came to the show with her sisters in support of its cause. “It can have a really negative effect on your self-confidence,” she said.
Saturday’s show was the end result of a nine month effort by mom and youth mentor, Amy Walker, who wanted to find a way to change the unhealthy body image many girls have today.
The organizer said, “The fashion show is to celebrate real women, with real bodies, and give women permission to feel their best and look their best at any size, any age."
Speeches and discussion throughout the day aimed to silence some advertisements that depict girls in an unrealistic light.
“I feel like, as women, we have a lot of pressure to look a certain way and to fit into a certain mold,” said Walker.
According to a study found at washington.edu titled, “Teen Health and the Media,” 53% of girls are unhappy with their bodies, and by the time they are 17, that number grows to 78%.
Even stores geared towards adults, like Victoria's Secret, have younger lines like the company's Pink brand, which its owner, Limited Brands, says is geared towards “college age girls” on its website. We reached out to the company for comment Saturday, but could not get in touch with anyone.
Walker said other stores use advertising that targets an even younger crowd. "There's statistics that show there's about 78% of children's clothing in certain lines are sexualized," she said.
Shoppers passing through the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City aren’t unfamiliar with the picture perfect models gracing store windows.
"I think it's unhealthy because it gives girls an unrealistic vision of what their body should be like," said customer, Ainslee Larsen.
Others we spoke with, like shopper Taneea Rasmussen, said they aren’t offended by more provocative images in ads, and they can understand why companies use them. “I wouldn’t buy the bras if they didn’t look good,” said Rasmussen.
While they might be good for business, the ads aren’t selling the body image Walker wants young women to have.