Does The Advertising Industry Feed Off Your Body Image Insecurities?

“If you ever hate your body, remember there are people making money off the idea that you aren’t good enough”

Negative body image is a big talking point at the moment. Why is this?

The portrayal of women and unrealistic expectations of the ideal body size and shape are still splashed all over the media, whether it is on TV, newspapers, glossy magazines, social media, billboards or even advertisements on and around public transport. Sadly, we are still seeing so many unrealistic body images in the media which can have a huge effect on our mental health and the way we see ourselves. It makes many of us feel bad and leaves us striving for what is perceived as true beauty – a “perfect” or “ideal” body image which simply doesn’t exist.

The beauty, diet and fashion industries are all very profitable and marketing teams know exactly how to grab our attention and sell products off the idea that you aren’t pretty enough, thin enough or worthy enough.

Many advertisers still believe that only thin models sell products and that airbrushing/photoshopping is necessary. The message they are relaying is that in order to be beautiful, you must be skinny and/or flawless. Unfortunately we are “buying” into this. What they are doing is creating insecurities in real women.

Many women, and now we are hearing that more and more men, struggle with their body image and self-esteem. Obviously some people feel the pressure from the media more than others. Teenagers, in particular, seem to be feeling enormous pressure to fit in and comply with what the fashion and beauty culture is illustrating.

Excessive worrying about your appearance could result in mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression. Body Dysmorphic Disorder is another type of mental illness relating to body image which is much more than feeling body insecure like many of us will admit we do. It is an obsession with a perceived “defect” in appearance. Whether it be imagined or only a slight flaw, the individual becomes preoccupied with the “defect.”

We are not saying that all people with eating disorders and other disorders related to body image have been negatively affected by the media but this may often be a contributing factor. The media is, in part, responsible for several health and psychological issues in today’s society.

It is important to remember that every body is different. If every individual was to eat the same food, the same portion size and also do exactly the same exercise for a certain period of time, they would still not all look the same.

Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of body.

As a society we should demand change. We need to change the way the media depicts beauty and body image and must empower ourselves and avoid the crushing effects of unrealistic ideals on our self-worth and self-esteem by limiting our exposure to media images and advertising. Brands should be representing us in more realistic ways. A win-win situation. They continue to make money but we can keep our self-worth and self-esteem and not feel bad about our own body image.

Some brands are beginning to use real women in their advertisements and more celebrities are speaking out about body image now which is a good thing. There is beginning to be more representation, but there is a long way to go.

It will take a while for things to change so in the meantime, next time you see media articles, ask yourself how realistic they are, whether they are relevant to you and most importantly, think about the effect they are having on you.

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