Body Image in Advertising

It’s not a secret anymore, that advertising makes a huge influence in our life. Commercials impact us to buy products that are not necessary for us, as well as dictated how to look or act.
Media does huge effect for body image, but not everyone affected in the same way. Some people have lower self-esteem and are more likely to compare themselves with media images. This can make them feel even lower about themselves if they do not meet the same standard of beauty.

Women receive more messages about slimness and staying in shape than men do. The average woman sees from 400 to 600 advertisements per day. Only 9% of commercials have a direct statement about beauty. And many more emphasize the importance of beauty. Particularly those that target women and girls. 50% of advertisements in teen girl magazines and 56% of television commercials used beauty as a product appeal. This constant exposure to female-oriented advertisements influences girls to become self-conscious about their bodies. And to obsess over their physical appearance as a measure of their worth. (Healthy Place, 2012)

Body image problems hit not only women. Experts say men are also just as likely to be unhappy with the way they look. Men also worry about being muscular. A desire to fit the ideal body image of men may lead the use of dangerous and illegal drugs (like steroids). This leads men into health problems. Men are less likely to seek medical help than women for any type of illness. Worrying about weight and body shape has sometimes seen as a ‘female’ problem. Men are even less likely to ask for help, for fear of looking weak and effeminate. (Better Health, 2012)
Furthermore, men worry not only about being fit and muscular. About their skin, because of acne or scars. They preoccupied about hair loss, the size or shape of their nose, or their genitals. (BBC News, 2001)

The main problem is that advertisement support kids think bad about how they look. Advertisements on children’s show with fast foods, high sugar, high calorie, high-fat foods. Even so, children are more likely comparing themselves with people around. Or with actors and celebrities they see on TV, in movies, or in magazines. All this may lead into eating disorders. (Teens Health, 2012)

Images of thinness are a cause of the eating disorders of bulimia and anorexia. These diseases are the most popular among young women. It affects age between 16 and 40 (on average, it starts around the age of 18 or 19). People who have bulimia try to control their weight by binge eating. Then purging the food from their body by being sick or using laxatives. Moreover, bulimia includes depression, stress and low self-esteem. (NHS choices, 2012)

Anorexia same as bulimia caused for the similar reasons. Those who are suffering from anorexia pursue a low ‘ideal’ weight. Body weight maintained at least 15 per cent below what expected for a person’s age, sex and height. Weight loss may cause hormonal disturbances. As a result, women with anorexia may stop having periods. (Net Doctor, 2011)

How advertisement influence women body image in numbers? Today’s fashion models weigh is 23% less than the average female. Woman between the ages of 18-34 has a 7% chance of being slim as a catwalk and 1% chance of being thin as a supermodel. 69% of girls in one study said that magazine models influence their idea about the perfect body. (Healthy Place, 2012)
On the other hand, advertisement helps to fight against anorexia and bulimia. Now it’s popular to create anti-anorexia adverts and present it to the whole world. It helps people to realise and encourage to ask for help. For example, an advertising campaign for Italian company Nolita depicted a naked anorexic woman. It caused shock-waves as it was faced all over billboards in Milan, as well as all over the internet. (Giant Digital, 2007)nolita

The second example, Martin Stadhammar’s campaign for the national society called Anorexi/Bulimi-Contact in hopes of raising awareness about the illness and gathering donations to the Anorexi/Bulimi-contact society. (Oddee, 2011)

All in all, it’s not hard to understand that the media does huge effect on body image. But we have to realize as well that it is the best way to fight against eating disorder problems.


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