8.07.2008

thin women effect: hating self, loving brands.

according to a study reported on by AdAge, thin women in advertising make women feel poorly about themselves, but good about the brand. viewers will eat less or choose low-calorie options after seeing a thin model, feeling inadequate, but will like whatever product better; yet, when faced with a "normal" sized woman, women are less inclined to purchase the advertised product, but won't monitor their eating. the study was comprised of "a sample of 194 college students aged 18-24."

i feel the need to address this, especially because it's getting attention as a reason for marketers to return to skinny models: they sell product better.

i don't think this is the case. i think for a long time now, women have been living in 'the valley.' no, not like valley girls. i mean this trench from which we try to crawl out of. on one side, expectations and traditions (and don't you dare get me started in a debate by saying 'but they aren't there any more'--bullshit); on the other side, a long way up and out, paved with dogmas and philosophies difficult to navigate, aiming to feel alright in this world and in our bodies.

this shift is still changing.
the valley is getting smaller, but it will take time. this movement is helping more than hurting, if marketers/brands can suck it up a while longer. only in the past decade (being generous) have girls been able to see 'real women' in the media around them. wait for these girls to grow up. then tell me about their confidence, their eating habits, their response to thin models. if the same results hold in 20 years, then i'd consent to maybe there being something in it.

because right now, the valley effect is such that women see skinny women in skinny jeans (for example). that's a goal and aspiration that they were brought up (in many cases) to fulfill, understanding that this is what our Western society views as desirable. they want to be the skinny woman so they can buy the skinny jeans. thus, they get down on themselves, eat less, and do like the brand more--it's a status symbol, a version of self-growth and attainment/contentment.

that is removed for current 18-24 year olds, many of whom grew up on Britney Spears and Spice Girls, when they are shown images like themselves. there is no push to better oneself, no goal to reach, no status attached to something they can readily buy. to put it in perspective: the iPhone. if it was cheap and easy to get, tech geeks wouldn't be all over that shit. the iPhone are the skinny jeans of today's market gurus.

but that desire for the skinny jean will dissipate when it is no longer a status symbol. if the regular jeans are as desirable as the size 00s. to extend the metaphor, when it becomes more about the cut and style of the jeans, rather than the size. this is the shift. don't cut it off from happening. the study also found that seeing regular women was self-affirming, though brand-denying. but i should know better than to ask the industry to consider the end user over the almighty dollar.

[side note.
i'm not even getting into the fact that 194 students is a shitty sample size to be parading this data around on.
]

1 comment:

dearjanesample said...

I am actually very suspicious of the study, because in a way I feel that marketers who market products/brands to woman have all decided that by making women 'feel bad about themselves' they will get the woman to BUY more. It's one of those evil and underhanded marketing methods that we all know work, but are not comfortable using.