Criticism Of Body Positive Advertising

Satisfactory Essays
What Is a “Real” Woman?
Criticism of Existing Body Positive Advertising

Thinner and thinner models are being used in combination with Photoshop, creating an impossible beauty ideal that is affecting the physical and emotional health of women in our society. The typical fashion model presented in advertisements has protruding hip bones and an androgynous body shape due to dangerously low body fat. They are slimmed and smoothed further in images by the use of Photoshop. The documentary MissRepresentation points out, “you never see a photograph in the media of a woman considered beautiful that hasn’t been digitally altered to make her absolutely inhumanely perfect”.
Since the 1980’s, the quest to be thin has shifted from eliminating excess weight to eliminating bulges, or flesh that wiggles (“Slender Body” 191). It is no longer enough to be thin. The ideal body is also toned, bolted down, and maintains “firm bodily margins” (“Slender Body” 191). This nearly impossible beauty standard is reflected and enforced by advertisements showing emaciated models selling products to smooth out bumps, reduce wrinkles, or tone the body.
The media’s depiction of female bodies has a detrimental influence on women’s perception of themselves and has come under fire in recent years. Girls growing up in our media soaked culture internalize society’s ever-thinning standard of beauty, believing that they can never be slender enough. The negative effect of the media has been linked to the spread of eating disorders (“Never Just Pictures”, Thompson). This has led to a public outcry against impossibly thin, airbrushed models and a demand for more honest advertising.
The movement toward “body positive” advertising is a response to the damaging eff...

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...ove, it still rejects older and disabled women as beautiful. It also renders women with imperfect skin or tattoos as unacceptable. Although Skinnygirl claims to show the average woman in their advertisement, they still only represent a limited demographic.
Although presented as body positive, Dove, M&S and Skinnygirl’s advertising campaigns using “real women” still subscribe to existing beauty standards to maintain firm body margins and reject certain body types as beautiful. Even if well intentioned, advertising for beauty products is inherently not a good place to start the body positive movement because it relies on the consumer feeling like they need to improve themselves to buy the product. Instead of focusing on how to make “ordinary” women feel beautiful, the focus should shift away from the body. Women should not feel as if their beauty is their self worth.
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