A Persuasive Health Campaign
Adult viewers generally recognize the distorted standards often perpetuated in media as unrealistic advertisement-driven ideology but younger viewers may not. Younger audiences often see such advertisements as goals as opposed to unattainable but coveted traits. These images and messages strike younger viewers as an expectation they must live up to as opposed to the exception that can’t be achieved by most. Youths with a purchasing power of over $200 billion USD annually respond to advertisements that inspire feelings of inadequacy and high risk behavior (Lamb). These young people spend approximately 72 hours a week tuned in to electronic devices such as television and the internet (Lamb). We propose that the problem is not misleading advertising, but the lack of readily available resources to counter what is promoted by them.
We often hear organizations attacking the media and attempting to control what’s reproduced in advertisements; no one, however, is promoting the creation of an image independent of these sources. Advertising will always reflect the desires of its audience. If these desires are unattainable and unhealthy, audiences will continue to be negatively affected. Viewers need another basis of objective comparison for what constitutes healthy, beautiful, and desirable. The Risks
Negative self-image is a psychological health issue that has resounding consequences on the mental growth and stability of adolescents. Bad self-image generates a variety of risks ranging from minor to extreme, including: distorted body views/body dissatisfaction, depressed mood, anxiety, anger, eating disorders, identity confusion, physical appearance comparison tendency, and internalization of “thin ideal”. Ultimately, negative media portrayal becomes the source of many personal and psychological disorders that can tear apart people’s lives. These issues are symptoms of high-risk behavior in both men and women. Our target audience represents the demographic most likely to be affected by detrimental messages; American girls ages 10-21 and boys 14-24. This age demographic is so often bombarded with media exposure that they begin to see what they observe in advertisements as the norm. These youths lack an understanding of what is normal for themselves and what is healthy for each individual. The populace aspires to become the image being sold to them rather than the healthiest version of who they really are. Unfortunately, more money is made by manipulating insecurities than inspiring self-satisfaction. The Facts
Research conducted by the University of Melbourne evaluated the self-image of girls grades 7 and 10 after exposure to idealized female advertising images. Stable body dissatisfaction, physical appearance comparison tendency, internalization of “thin ideal,” self-esteem, depression, identity confusion, and body mass index (BMI) were assessed to determine the affect of the images on the girls. A week later the group was given a survey of their body images before and after viewing magazine advertisements. The results show a significant increase in self-conscious low-esteem and depressed bodily dissatisfaction (Posavac). This research helped us outline our demographic and tells us that young girls are more inclined to view themselves from the perspective of others. Understanding the affects advertising has on our audience is integral to our course of attack in counteracting the origin of their body dissatisfaction. Women who internalize the “thin-ideal” body image are more susceptible to seeing their own bodies as unsatisfactory after viewing advertisements with models (Dittmar, H. etc). They see discrepancies between their own body and their ideal body. This can occur whether the women are actually overweight or not (Dittmar, H. etc). Many women see themselves as fat when in fact they are well within the range of a healthy weight...