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Body Image Double Standards

Advertising Age Suggests Women Want Skinny Models

— August 17, 2008 — Social Good
People are diving back into the issue of skinny, largely because of the tremendous buzz about Jennifer Love Hewitt. Specifically, Jennifer Love Hewitt’s weight loss publicity is a 180 degree turn on her “embrace your body” stance. Just a few weeks ago, Advertising Age cast some more light on the topic, and the results are disheartening.

The study is titled “Skinny Women Better for Bottom Line.” One part of the article notes, “Researchers Find Thin Models Make Viewers Like Brands More, but Themselves Less...”

The bottom line is ‘thin is definitely in’ when it comes to marketing. Jennifer Love Hewitt’s weight loss is the latest example. Even though women often criticize the use of thin models in ads, and suffer negative emotional and health consequences because of it, these same women would much rather buy from a brand that uses very thin models as opposed to a brand that uses more natural and regular-sized models.

“The really interesting result we’re seeing across multiple studies is that these thin models make women feel bad, but they like it,” said Jeremy Kees, a business Professor at Villanova. “They have higher evaluation of the brands. With the more regular-size models, they don’t feel bad. Their body image doesn’t change. But in terms of evaluations of the brands, those are actually lower.”

This is not very surprising to me. We live in a culture that is very hypocritical and full of double-standards. We like to talk and preach, but our actions do not always follow.

Trend Hunter has noted a number of articles in this category over the last few months, including buzz about supermodel Karolina Kurkova who was criticized for being fat.

I think the lesson I learned from this whole Jennifer Love Hewitt fiasco is that if you’re not going to support your words with actions, then do not go around making powerful statements and use the emotion of the general public to gain publicity. Because sooner than later, your words will come back to bite you…