Advertising: Where Are We Now on Body Image?

Hosted by Huffington Post:

Karen Fraser

Director of Credos

According to Dove, winners of the advertising award at the Body Confidence Awards hosted by the APPG on Body Image this month, only one in eight British women consider themselves attractive. With results like this it is no surprise that political concerns and public awareness surrounding low body confidence in the UK are increasing rapidly. Minister for Equalities Lynne Featherstone’s Government Body Confidence campaign has driven debates on how to diversify socially prescribed definitions of beauty.

The focus for advertising began with discussions on airbrushing in the media; yet approaching this from an informed and balanced stand point was hindered by the lack of solid research that had been conducted into understanding the issue. The advertising industry’s think tank, Credos, set about rectifying this and last autumn published Pretty as a Picture, the culmination of almost a year’s research into airbrushing and body image. We held focus groups with 24 young women, spanning ages from 10-18, held separate focus groups with their Mums, and commissioned an online survey of a nationally representative sample of 1000 girls aged 10-21 years.

We found that 84% of our sample understands what airbrushing means, whilst 61% reject the use of airbrushing in removing blemishes, and a massive 84% believe it’s unacceptable to change the shape of models’ figures. Overwhelmingly, the message was that whilst beauty and glamour are central to advertising, faking beauty undermines young women’s trust in a brand.