A FORMER international model and one-time Miss Universe has hit out at the fashion industry for promoting a distorted body image she said was damaging young people.
Australia's Kerry Wells, who was crowned Miss Universe in 1972, said the increased use of computer-enhanced images in teen-oriented and celebrity magazines prompted many young people to "think even the real people look like glamour-pusses".
"There wasn't Photoshop when I first started modelling but they used to do a fair bit of airbrushing," the 55-year-old said after attending a workshop with year nine students in Melbourne today.
"I think the danger now is that they are doing the same thing with celebrities, they are doing the same things with real people.
"It's very difficult to separate what is real from fantasy, and many kids just think, 'I'm never going to look any good'."
Ms Wells spoke at the official launch of "Bodythink" – a program running in Victorian schools that encourages students to question the body image presented by the fashion industry.
"You may wonder what I'm doing here today given that when I was younger, as a model, and briefly as a beauty title-holder, I perpetrated the promotion of a female body image which few women can emulate," she said.
"I, like the others here today, are concerned that girls and boys are now increasingly insecure about the way they look."
Students today studied a magazine cover showing Hollywood actress Kate Winslet – an image that was stretched to give her longer legs and a smaller dress size.
They also heard eight out of 10 young girls do not like what they see in the mirror, and five thought they were too fat.
One in four young people diagnosed with an eating disorders is male.
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