It's not news that advertising images -- particularly in the fashion business -- are biased toward the very thin. But a recent study by researchers at Arizona State University found that women pay more attention to guilt-inducing marketing messages about fatness than they do to the opinions of their friends, even when those friends do not believe they are obese.
The fashion industry is particularly cynical on this issue, as it frequently uses under-age girls as models for clothing intended for adults. While those girls may merely be thin and not anorexic because of their youth, only an anorexic adult could hope to replicate those looks when buying off the rack. (The issue is further complicated when advertisers use child models posing as adults in sexy situations, which skirts the laws prohibiting the production of pedophilic images.)
Here are 10 advertising offenders, many of them main street brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch and The Gap, who are guilty of promoting anorexia in their marketing.
Next: Begin gallery of advertisers who promote anorexia in their adsÂ»
Watch a video discussion of this slideshow here:
1. Abercrombie & Fitch
The images for A&F's new line of yoga pants are so heavily PhotoShopped they look like drawings. But they're definitely for thin people. As the YogaDork blog noticed, they're only available for those with smaller than 30-inch waists, and they don't come in XL sizes.
Next: Diet books for tots.
2. "Maggie Goes on a Diet"
This kids book is about a 14-year-old who goes on a diet and becomes a soccer star. It's aimed at the under-10s.
Next: Jennifer Hudson
3. Jennifer Hudson and Weight Watchers
If any star represents America's own self-loathing when it comes to its body image, it's actress Jennifer Hudson. She told Self magazine:
"I didn't even know I was considered plus-sized until I came to Hollywood ... I thought I was the perfect size!"
By sticking to a strict regimen of portion control and exercise, Hudson eventually lost 80 pounds and went from a size 16 to a 6 and says: "I'm prouder of my weight loss than my Oscar!"Prouder than winning an Oscar? Really? Hudson is a paid spokesperson for Weight Watchers.
We're used to seeing skinny store mannequins for women, but in men's stores the showroom dummies have traditionally featured bulging muscles and broad shoulders. Not any more. These images (taken by me) show that Express's male mannequins are so slim that the store's own clothing only fits them if they are pinned back with crocodile clips.
Fashion retailer Revolve repeatedly used the skeletal Allie Crandell as a model until people complained that images of her must be PhotoShopped. Turns out Crandell is actually this thin -- and Revolve made her promise to gain weight before it would use her in its advertising again.
Next: The Gap
6. The Gap
If you thought "skinny jeans" described the tight, tapering style of their pant legs, you were wrong: At The Gap, the jeans are actually targeted at skinny people, if their "death camp chic" mannequins are to be believed.
This video promo for Prada's women's wear line shows 13-year-old Ondria Hardin caressing herself sensually. It's a particularly blatant example because 13 isn't just a little bit too young, it's a lot too young; and Prada's target market is adult women, not teens, who have the income to afford such expensive threads.
Next: Ralph Lauren
8. Ralph Lauren
RL actually fired the model in this image, Fillipa Hamilton, because she was too fat (at 120 pounds). After failing to find a woman thin enough to represent the brand in real life, the company ordered PhotoShop alterations to many of its models to make them unfeasibly thin.
Next: American Apparel
9. American Apparel
No critique of wrongness in fashion is complete without American Apparel. The brand has a history of using too-young-looking models. More recently, it has started a search for plus-size models that has offended some because many of the entrants aren't "plus" size, they're normal size, and because the contest uses jokey language such as:
Think you're bigger, better and more booty-ful than the rest? Submit a recent photo of your face and physique for a chance to be our Next BIG Thing.Next: Zazzle
The phrase "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" is attributed to genetically skinny Kate Moss but has been more recently adopted as the "thinspirational" code of the pro-anorexia movement, a scary online teen cult that favors medically inadvisable dieting. Zazzle removed the shirts from its online store after receiving complaints.
- How Prada and Vogue Use Child Porn to Normalize Anorexia
- If Photoshop Is Banned in Advertising, It'll Be Julia Roberts' Fault
- Yoplait Ad Is Merely the Tip of Madison Ave's "Normalization" of Anorexia
- A Thin Line: Pretzel Company Uses Anorexics' Mantra as Ad Slogan
- Why Fashion Advertisers Should Ignore Women Who Complain About Skinny Models