Monthly Archives: October, 2012

The effect of the selling beauty. Figures and a piece of science.

I would like to continue the discussion taken part in my previous post, where I mostly presented my vision of the problem. Today I’m going to give some information about airbrushing and then turn to some research findings on the ‘ideal body’ issue.

According to the Advertising Association,
76% of women want to see images that are natural,
84%  believe that is not acceptable to edit the way models look at adverts and
48% are less likely to trust campaigns where airbrushing is used.

Have a look at this clip on airbrushing and specifically banned Lancom campaign:

You can find more extra information on this banned campaign in BBC website by following this link:

Now I want to concentrate on the ‘ideal body’ problem.

The images of glamorous slender girls we are exposed to every day affect our cognitive system are make changes in our body-schema. With regard to research conducted by Legenbauer et al. (2008), participants with eating disorders (ED) evaluated themselves as much heavier than participants from the control group, even though the BMI did not differ between those groups. What is more, after watching adverts showing female appearance the ED group’s chosen ideal got thinner and significantly underweight. It was also proved that commercials containing ‘ideal’ pictures trigger not only distortion of body schema and self-dissatisfaction, but also ‘self-destructive’ behaviour, leading, for example, to eating disorders (Legenbauer et al., 2008).

There is an interesting approach named ‘third person effect'(TPE) consisting in that women’s idea of what is ‘ideal’ body is influenced by their beliefs how men are affected by media representation of female beauty. This concept put attention on   ‘perceived media effects on others relative to self’ (Choi et al., 2008, 148 p.).  The idea of this concept: 1) we think other people are more influenced by mass media than we are; 2) this belief leads to behavioural outcome (Choi et al., 2008). It was shown that the women’s prototype of attractive female figure is thinner than men’s actual preference (Fallon & Rozin, 1985; Demarest & Allen, 2000; cited by Choi et al., 2008).

The body dissatisfaction in many cases leads to depression. There are some findings showing the bind between depression and eating disorders. According to McCarthy:

(1) depression is more prevalent in women than in men; the female to male ratio is
typically reported as 2 : 1 (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1987);
(2) this sex ratio first appears at puberty; before
puberty depression is twice as common in boys, after puberty it is twice as common in girls (Rutter
et al., 1986);
(3) this sex ratio is only reported in western societies; it is not reported in rural,
non-modern societies (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1987);
(4) the rate of depression has been increasing,
especially among young females (Klerman, 1988);
(5) the age of onset for depression is younger
in the present generation than for older generations (Klerman, 1988).
Four of these trends are parallel to trends in eating disorders:
(1) the majority (95%) of eating
disorder patients are female (DSM III R, 1987);
(2) eating disorders emerge at puberty (DSM III
R, 1987);
(3) eating disorders are present in western countries and absent in non-western countries
(Garner and Garfinkel, 1980);
(4) the incidence of eating disorders has risen over the past 20 yr
(Silverstein et al., 1986)’ (McCarthy, 1990, p. 205).

So there is some reason to think about it in a more serious way. While the media representation of beaty is not going to be change, we face such severe problems…

To be continued…





What is the price for the beauty? Cruel games we are involved in

  • Overall discomfort
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sociophobia
  • Distorted body schema
  • Eating disorders
  • Depression
  • …Want more?

What do all these things have in common? They are all effects of the idealization of the female beauty in the media sphere. Let’s watch this clip showing the process of creating a glamorous face in adverts:

It is obvious that those charming images we see on the streets, on the pages of  magazines and on TV are products of a huge professional team that includes make-up artists, hairstylist, photographers, designers and editors. But this knowledge does not belittles the effect on women’s mentality that urges them 1) to buy ‘beauty’ items and  2) to feel uncomfortable and dissatisfied in their own body. 

I am aware of I am not the first who discusses this problem. However, I am convinced that business still has not realised all the seriousness of the damage it may do.

The mechanism that causes psychological problems of the female consumers is quite simple. We are bombarded with lots of advertising messages every day. Specifically, those relating to the beauty industry basically say to us, ‘Look at this pretty model. You do not look like her, but you may approximate to her if you buy this product’,  ‘Come on. Get more beautiful by making purchase”. No money no honey. In my opinion, this phrase is completely about beauty industry. What’s more in most cases this paradigm eliminates the idea of the initial personal beauty that is given to everyone and establishes market relationships that push women not only to buy cosmetics and ‘beauty’ pills, but also go for the radical measures like plastic surgery. Advertisers work closely with magazines that have a preference for ‘perfect’ faces as well as for slim bodies. Analysis of several articles about eating disorders in popular magazines done by Kurz and Whitehead (2008) highlights the fact that anorexia, even though showed as non-healthy, perceived much more desirable than obesity. That means that thinness is more successful in fitting the social market (!) criteria of the ‘real’ femininity than corpulence. 

I want to stop here for today and continue to talk about this issue next time. =) In the following post I am going to give concrete figures and more thoughts on this topic.

P.S. To anticipate some comments  I’d like to give a well-known exemption.

Dove is an example (but the only famous one) of an attempt to exploit the image of the real natural beauty in advertising campaign. Here is pro-age advert:

Offensive advertisments. Does the problem exist?

Recently I got interested in the effects, specifically abusive, that are caused by lots of advertising campaigns.

Particularly, I am really anxious about the issue of portrayal women in adverts inducing negative self-esteem, lack of confidence and more serious problems such as depression, sociopathy and anorexia.

In this post I would like to concentrate on the overall questions: ‘How do actually consumers feel about so-called ‘insulting’ adverts?’ and ‘Why do organisations use abusive images in their advertisements?’.

Anti-smoking advert
NHS campaign against smoking

Do you feel comfortable looking at the advert above? I bet you do not.

Tom de Castella, BBS news journalist, discusses the results of the survey conducted by Adverting Standard Authority (  It was discovered by ASA that many participants, who took part in research, stated that the content of charity adverts is overdiligent in trying to make people feel guilty, that is to say it puts a strain on them. According to ASA, International aid, animal welfare and child protection are considered to be the most stressful themes in the area of charity. With regard to ASA the shocking approach that used by majority of charities has some  risks attached, because people would rather turn off something that makes them feel too uncomfortable than watch it. The answer from the side of advertising industry is the following. Claire Beale, the editor of advertising magazine Campaign believes that charities

‘have to make a small amount of money go a long way in a cluttered media environment. They have to make sure that in the one or two times that people see the ad, it registers. Hence you need to create a shocking or stand-out image.’

Concerning social adverting, I found an advert that, in my opinion, makes you feel sad and encourages to think broadly about smoking, but doesn not offend you. What do you think about it? Here it is:

Although adverts for charity campaigns may have ‘an excuse’ for their actions, some commercial advertisements are not less abusive.

In this sphere most of the debates concentrate on the question of sex and nudity. However, the ASA survey shows that attitudes are changing. One of the explanations of this tolerance towards ‘sexy’ ads is that nowadays sexual materials are accessible in the internet. In general, participants agree that nudity is acceptable in case it is used wisely. The example of  ‘unacceptable’ advertising is Antonio Federici campaign that performed scenes involving priests and nuns that contained both sex and religious context.

Two priests embracing
Fedirici’s advert

There is no doubt that such adverts are very memorable. But haven’t they gone too far? What is your view on that problem?

To be continued… Next time I am going to concentrate on the idealization of the female beauty in advertising and its consequences.

=) And the funny advert to end:

Hello world!

Hello everybody!