Need a program (virtual or in-person) to empower teen girls around media messages? See our menu.

The advertising industry fails to step up to Australia’s body image diversity awards

Nearly two years on from their introduction, Australia’s Positive Body Image awards are failing to catch the attention of fashion, media and entertainment, and advertising industry organizations and individuals.

About-Face has previously covered the Australian government’s National Advisory Group on Body Image, and their voluntary code of conduct and awards.

In 2012, the inaugural awards rewarded DOLLY and Girlfriend magazines, as well as the Dove BodyThink program and the En Vogue Modelling Academy, for taking steps to promote positive body image messages to young people.

However, the notable lack of entries from the advertising industry is dismaying. Though magazines have been interested in booking plus-size models, advertisers have not.

Apparently, asking advertisers to adhere to such guidelines as using models of a healthy weight and over a certain age, and presenting natural images of people, is too much to ask.

In some areas, progress seems to be happening, albeit at a glacial pace.

Helen McCabe, editor-in-chief of The Australian Women’s Weekly and chair of the advisory group, articulates her approach to Photoshopping images:

”I’ll happily remove a mark from the prime minister’s jacket or mud from the bottom of a model’s shoe. There’s reasonable ground between a commercially viable photograph and an unattainable, unhealthy ideal.”

Seems sensible to me.

Tessa Needham finished her PhD in Performing Arts at the University of Western Sydney (Australia) in 2008. Her thesis explored the potential of performance to provoke change, and part of her research was Bodily, a solo theatrical performance about body image. She loves technology and the creative arts, and is passionate about the different cultural forces affecting the body image of girls and women. She teaches computers and does freelance creative work: www.tessaneedham.com.


2 thoughts on “The advertising industry fails to step up to Australia’s body image diversity awards

Add yours

  1. Unfortunately, the next step is legislation, right? Personally I don’t love the censorship that legislation of media tends to condone. But if advertisers won’t voluntarily adhere to these standards. It’s dismaying that their fear of losing profits comes ahead of saving women’s lives. So they shouldn’t come complaining to us when there are rules that will be enforced regarding their ads.

  2. Yes, that does seem like the next step. It really is a shame because it seems that people take really well to ads that don’t use excessive Photoshopping.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *