The need to be skinny

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Almost 9 in 10 American teenage girls say they feel pressured by the fashion and media industries to be skinny and that an unrealistic, unattainable image of beauty has been created, a poll showed on Monday.

The online survey of 1,000 girls aged between 13 and 17 for the Girl Scouts of the USA found that three quarters said they would be more likely to buy clothes that they see on real-size models than on women who are skinny.

But 3 out of 4 girls said that fashion is "really important" to them.

"The fashion industry remains a powerful influence on girls and the way they view themselves and their bodies," said Kimberlee Salmond, senior researchers at the Girl Scout Research Institute.

"Teenage girls take cues about how they should look from models they see in fashion magazines and on TV and it is something that they struggle to reconcile with when they look at themselves in the mirror," she said.

More than 80% of teen girls said they would rather see natural photos of models rather than pictures that had been digitally altered or enhanced.

Other top influences on body perceptions, aside from celebrities and models, are peers, friends and parents, the poll showed.

1 in 3 girls said they have starved themselves or refused to eat in an effort to lose weight, while almost half said they knew someone their age who has forced themselves to throw up after eating. More than a third said they know someone who has been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

The survey was conducted by youth research firm Tru.

Is your daughter easily influenced by the media? Is her weight an issue?

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