Feeling Fat and Ugly? Blame The Media

How the advertising industry is fuelling a negative body image epidemic

In this short speech on the representation of women´s bodies in the media, Jean Kilbourne looks at how the advertising industry shapes our society, making women feel bad about themselves so they will go out and spend money on products which will never make them look like the models they aspire to be. Why? Because even the models don´t look like that. Cindy Crawford famously said: “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford,” making reference to the fact all photos are airbrushed and digitally enhanced to sell a version of reality which is completely unattainable.

When GQ magazine photoshopped Kate Winslet to make her a third of her real size, the ballsy actress issued a statement that they made the changes without her permission. “I don´t look like that, and more importantly, I don´t desire to look like that,” she responded. If more celebrities took a tough stance on this issue, maybe we wouldn´t have an eating disorder epidemic in the western world.

“The obsession with thin-ness and violence against women are public health problems”, says Kilbourne, who has researched this issue for 40 years and believes the advertising industry fuels societal problems like these by objectifying women´s bodies. Would things be different if we were only exposed to images of real women? Would we be happier, more confident and accepting of diverse body shape and size if the advertising industry decided to make some changes? Since a staggering 92% of girls are displeased by their body image, we think this is a worthy topic for debate. Tell us what you think in the comments.

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