Ems Design managing director Madalene Hall (left) and accounts and production manager Andrea Prasser (second right).
Ems Design managing director Madalene Hall (left) and accounts and production manager Andrea Prasser (second right). Kristy Muir

Images of perfect models turn women off the product

REALITY is starting to bite in the advertising game as females of all ages begin to pull away from the image of the "perfect woman".

An English study by the University of Warwick found that women and girls were resisting advertising messages using images of beautiful models with unrealistic bodies.

The first response women had to such advertising was a defensive one, reasoning that the models' images were unattainable and disregarding the product as a result, the study found.

But when the image of the female model was more understated, women would feel inadequate about their own bodies or image, and associate the product with looking and feeling better.

Butterfly Foundation CEO Christine Morgan said the findings made sense to her.

"There is a deep level of our subconscious that has been buying into the ideal of being that body," she said.

"But there is an overlaying consciousness that kicks in when we really look at the image.

"If you look at 99.9% of us, we are never going to look like those models, but if we couple our body image to that image, we are not going to feel good about ourselves."

Ms Morgan said that could lead to the dangerous territory of wanting to attain a look that some bodies could not physically achieve.

The National Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image strongly recommends that such diversity be used in portraying women models in any form of media.

Ems Design advertising agency managing director Madalene Hall said her company had to be careful in the way it portrayed the female body.

"We're careful with the types of models we select so we're not generalising the situation," she said.

"We have to be very cautious and meticulous with how we portray people in marketing and advertising."

Ms Hall said advertising agencies often used female models to appeal to women who were savvy decision-makers in personal and household purchases.

"Females are a major decision-maker in all aspects these days," she said.

Advertising Standards Bureau chief executive Fiona Jolly said the organisation received complaints from time to time about seeing very thin females in advertising.

However, no restriction is placed on advertisers portraying thin models in ads, as long as the women look healthy.

If you need help or support for an eating disorder or body image issue, call the Butterfly Foundation on 1800 334 673 or email support@thebutterflyfoundation.org.au.


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