In March 2004 adverts featuring images of women of different shapes and sizes in their underwear – which soap brand Dove says have not been altered in any way – were hailed as a positive step both for women at risk of developing eating disorders and for those needing to lose weight.
Eating Disorders Association chief executive Susan Ringwood said the move to ditch stick-thin, airbrushed models was “a good start”.
The decision came after a survey for Dove Firming moisturiser found that three-quarters of UK women had low body confidence as a result of beauty advertising. Ms Ringwood said: “We welcome the fact that people are choosing to portray realistic body shapes and sizes in their advertising.
“Certainly people do judge themselves against the stereotypical views in adverts, particularly young women.
“They measure themselves literally and figuratively against what they see and it certainly can contribute to people feeling very negative about themselves.”
Ms Ringwood said although the EDA would never blame the media and advertising for people developing eating disorders, it was “certainly part of the context” in which they thrived.
“Anything that helps to provide a more supportive and realistic context has got to be welcomed,” she added.
Amanda Wynne, spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, said the move was a positive one which would provide more achievable, healthy targets for those who did need to lose weight.
“We’re gripped with this obesity epidemic at the moment and I don’t think it’s really helpful to see unrealistic skinny women plastered everywhere in adverts,” she said.
“It’s great to see more realistic, attractive women that people can actually aspire to look like – it’s saying you can look really fabulous and not be a size 6.
“A lot of people are very conscious of their weight and feel that they’ve got to be constantly on a diet and slimming, and that’s not very helpful.
“What we need to promote is the importance a balanced diet, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight, rather than this kind of obsession with being on a diet and trying to achieve an unrealistic body image.
“People can be beautiful and vivacious without being over-skinny and I think these adverts are a positive step for showing that.”
The survey found two-thirds of UK women feel depressed about their figures, while three-quarters wanted to see more realistic-looking models in beauty ads and the media.
Dove says the new campaign is designed to celebrate real women and boost their body confidence.
The six women who star in the new campaign, created with photographer Ian Rankin, were recruited off the street
- Also see:
- - Body Image and Barbie's Figure
- - Body Image and Breast Size
- - Influences on Female Body Image
- - Plus Size Female Body Image Quiz
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