The Link Between Body Image and Advertising

Posted by | April 20, 2012 | advertising | No Comments

Advertising is a powerful force that has the ability to shape our attitudes, thoughts, and consumer preferences. A distinguished form of advertisement that is designed to promote public interest is public service announcements (PSAs). PSAs are broadcasted to media outlets without charge and have one objective in mind: To raise awareness in order to change attitudes and behaviors towards a certain issue.

Time and time again, advertisements have been blamed for promoting idealized images of the perfect body for monetary gain. Advertisements have a bad connotation within many people’s minds because it has the power to negatively alter an individual’s perception of his or her body. However, there are many advertisements that do the opposite. When I was a teenager, I came across this PSA on YouTube that positively changed the way I perceived my body.

This PSA had a lasting impact on me because I knew exactly what the girl in the PSA was feeling when she was looking at herself in the mirror. I would set unrealistic expectations for myself, nitpick parts of my body that I didn’t like in the mirror, and was preoccupied with food, weight, nutrition, and dieting. Watching this PSA was daunting and also eye-opening because it made me realize that I was doing exactly what the girl in the PSA was doing to herself.

The message behind the PSA is strong but what makes it effective is the artistic quality. This advertisement was developed in Stockholm, Sweden by a creative director named Martin Stadhammar. He created this PSA for Anorexi Bulimi Kontakt, a support agency for those facing anorexia and bulimia in Sweden. The creativity behind the PSA is genius. It starts off by showing us an universal image of what an average girl’s room looks like with an alarm clock and stuffed animals by her bedside. The introduction creates and establishes a personal connection between the girl and its audience because she is your typical girl next door. She then looks at herself in the mirror with uncertainty and sadness because she does not like the way she looks. At the end, the camera pulls back and reveals a skeletal figure of the girl looking at a distorted view of her body reflected in the mirror.

Eating disorders can affect anyone and that is what the PSA is trying to convey to its audience. It can be your friend, the girl next door, or the boy who sits behind you in class. It’s advertisements like these that should alter the way individuals view their body and seek help if needed. The power of PSAs are unmeasurably strong and it needs more recognition within the realm of advertising and society itself.

 - Hana Kelley

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