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Does My Bum Look Big In This?

2014 words - 9 pages


Beauty [they say] comes from within; in this day and age however, the question often asked is whether beauty transpires - from within bottles, operating theatres or ourselves? It is also said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; so what happens if either the inner image or the reflection we see is imperfect or distorted? Body image is a complex issue; one in which perceptions, thoughts and feelings play a major role - along with the widening gap between actual body sizes (which are increasing) and those portrayed in the media (such as Barbie and Rambo) (Brown and Dittmar 2005.1089). Whilst many other issues contribute to wellbeing, body image ...view middle of the document...

Weight is an issue in its own right with regards to negative self assessment. Correlational studies have shown that a women’s weight or BMI directly relates to the level of body image anxiety; in other words the higher a women’s weight, the higher her potential body image anxiety (Dittmar 2005, 1100-1103). The media, advertising and fashion industries are the main contributors to the deluge of visual messages that besiege our waking moments; it is virtually impossible to inhabit the 21st century and not be aware of the array and inundation of body specific advertising; according to (Stossel, n.d.) its pervasiveness is one of the factors contributing to the continuance of negative body images. Advertising is a ubiquitous messenger; one that saturates an individual’s personal and private thoughts and feelings in its efforts to influence choice and satisfy our desires for the wants and needs it promotes and endorses. In doing so advertising helps construct our perception of the “perfect” body.

With this in mind, we must ask ourselves if our materialistic, consumer society is to some extent responsible for this advertising epidemic. In a media saturated culture whose influence seemingly knows no bounds, attainment of these unrealistic and unrealisable goals is only feasible through digital enhancement (Australian Government: Body image paper 2009,13). Advertising’s current role in society is apparently to convey the message that health, happiness and wellbeing are intrinsically linked to beauty, thinness, money and the ability to posses all that you desire; consumers’ insecurities and self evaluation will drive their purchasing decisions, it is for this reason that advertising is aimed at stimulating positive feelings about the self as related to the product being touted, the so called “self-esteem” advertising (Solomon et al 2009, 132). The Australian government, in its Body image paper (2009, 8) advises that evaluation based on appearance alone leads to its own set of problems; age, motherhood, illness, stress and other factors play a part in how we feel about ourselves at different times in our lives, adding to our insecurities and encouraging more “perfect” body advertising scenarios in an effort to lessen these perceived insecurities with products and services. It is essential therefore, that consumers accept some responsibility for the continuance of this cycle of materialism; by purchasing goods that advertise knowingly unattainable and unrealistic body images, we are perpetuating this cycle and allowing advertising to play a role in forming our values, attitudes and opinions. Identification and comprehension of these marketing tactics allows further examination of ourselves, our lives and where we sit in society.

Interestingly, the advertising industry’s contention that thin models encourage sales is not evidence based; an experimental study in 2004 provided indicative evidence that the effectiveness of average weight models as...

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