What have Lindsay Lohan, Mischa Barton, Keira Knightley, Kate Beckinsale, Cameron Diaz and Nicole Richie got in common?

As well as being among the most photographed women on the planet on any given day, they have also been poster girls for the “Size Zero” fashion trend of recent years.

It is why, among the myriad of search results you’ll find when hunting for images of these and their ilk, you’ll find some rather alarming pictures of them looking gaunt, emaciated and painfully thin. Little wonder that the words anorexic and bulimic have a habit of following some of these women around.

It is a lifestyle choice on their behalf and they should be free to choose size zero if they want.

If only life was that simple.

In the cases of Lindsay Lohan, Mischa Barton, Keira Knightley and to a lesser extent these days Nicole Richie, they represent some of the women most likely to be copied by teenage and pre-teenage girls brought up on the rather malnourished diet provided by our celeb-obsessed media.

This market is incredibly lucrative – look at the success of the Olsen twins, multi-millionaires before they left high school – and so the pressures are enormous. There are huge pressures on girls to conform, to buy the clothes and the lifestyle and their are just as many pressures on the market’s role models to fit the stereotype.

It is a deeply unhealthy market, on so many different levels.

In the same week as some of the fashion press are predicting the demise of Size Zero – fingers crossed everybody – one of the biggest draws on the world wide web has been some rather unflattering pictures of a certain Britney Spears.

Her decision to go “commando” has further dented her once squeaky-clean pop princess image. The twice married and soon-to-be twice-divorced singer is no longer being held up as a wholesome teen role model.

However, I would argue the contrary is true.

Ignoring her private life completely, which I realise is akin to heresy in the cult of celebrity gripping a large section of the world’s population, Britney is no size zero and yet looks pretty fit and healthy all the same.

I’d suggest it is Britney that most accurately represents the typical body-type of today’s teenager and young woman, whilst Lindsay, Mischa, Keira, Kate, Cameron, Nicole, Mary-Kate and Ashley and all the other zero-clones offer a rather depressing, distinctly unhealthy and misguided ideal that does no-one any favours – least of all those attempting to fit into the ever-decreasing clothes ranges.

The backlash against devotees of size zero may have started, but the damage has already been done and is likely to be long-lasting.

Once you’ve stopped surfing for all things size zero related – the pictures and criticism – type “eating disorders” and “teenagers” into your search engine and get a large dose of reality to counter-balance the superficial celeb-fest.

 A few useful sites:

http://www.nice.org.uk

http://www.edauk.com/YoungPeople/Home

http://www.anorexiabulimiacare.co.uk/

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