The work of Dr. Helga Dittmar of the U of Sussex has always found many enthusiastic fans on this forum. In her research on body image, she has exploded many media myths about weight and beauty. In one report
, she determined that plus-size models could sell products just as effectively as underweight models, as long as the models are attractive. In another
, she found a sharp discrepancy between how images affect fashion/media professionals versus how they affect members of the general public (i.e., the public experiences body-image improvement when looking at plus-size models, while fashion/media professionals do not).
Now, in a new report that Dr. Dittmar (joined by forty
other body-image researchers) has delivered to the British government, she has proven, once and for all, that images of underweight models DO cause eating disorders. As a result, she has called for such images to be banned.
Airbrushed Ads 'Cause Eating Disorders'
Monday November 09, 2009
Jo Couzens, Sky News Online
Airbrushing of models and celebrities in adverts is fuelling eating disorders and depression among girls as young as five, leading body image experts are warning.
In a shocking new report, a group of over 40 doctors, psychologists and academics are calling for a ban on digitally retouching photos in advertising aimed at under-16s.
The researchers, from Britain, America and Australia, have written to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to say the "clear majority of adolescent girls" are experiencing problems with "depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurity and body dissatisfaction" as a result of the unnatural-looking girls featured in magazines.
In the past year, the ASA has received over 1,000 complaints about airbrushed adverts.
This month, a survey by Girlguiding UK found that nearly half of girls aged 11 to 16 are dieting to be thin....
Now, here's the part that's especially important, because fashion-industry apologists (and, insanely, even some people in the size-acceptance movement) have tried to pretend that images of anorexic models don't cause eating disorders. This report proves that to be false, once and for all.
But the ASA has so far refused to act, insisting that no scientific evidence has been provided to back up the complaints.
The authors of the Impact Of Media Images On Body Image And Behaviours report hope their findings are about to change that.
"Body dissatisfaction is a significant risk for physical health, mental health, and thus well-being," the report states.
"Any factor, such as idealised images, that increases body dissatisfaction is thus an important influence on well-being."
The letter to the watchdog adds: "We hope that the advertising authorities in the UK and other countries will give this evidence serious consideration and see the urgent need for policy change."
Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson said: "This paper spells out the real damage irresponsible airbrushing is doing to young women's physical and mental health.
"The Advertising Standards Agency now has all the scientific evidence it needs to act."
The report was written by Dr Helga Dittmar, of the University of Sussex, and Dr Emma Halliwell, of the University of the West of England, and researchers from the US and Australia.
Well, no more excuses. Now the British government - and all governments - can no longer pretend that there is any ambiguity in this matter. The promotion of an artificial standard of beauty must be stopped, as a matter of public health and safety, no less.