Hunter calls for greater regulation of body image in advertising

SDLP Children and Young People Spokesperson Cara Hunter has called for greater regulation around the depiction of body image in advertising.

Ms Hunter said unrealistic beauty standards in advertising is having a profound impact on society, particularly among younger age groups.

She also expressed concern around the amount of advertising for cosmetic procedures and weight loss plans.

East Derry MLA Ms Hunter said:

“The impact that advertising has on our society, particularly younger people, cannot be overstated. I welcome the recent steps taken by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to tighten their reccomendations around advertising, particularly when linked to body image and cosmetic procedures and agree with their assessment that more work is needed to truly tackle this issue.

“The depiction of people in advertising is often far from the reality and these unattainable beauty standards being seen as the norm can leave people questioning their own value and self-worth or pursuing risky diets or unnecessary cosmetic procedures in an attempt to boost their self-esteem and conform.

“The ASA has done lots of good work around ads that promote an unhealthy body image and I welcome their new recommended ban on targeting cosmetic procedures at under 18s which would make a real difference. However, we need to see greater body positivity and an acceptance of different body types in general in advertising, particularly when it comes to social media, influencers and online advertising.

“There is a recognition that many of the ads we see on a daily basis have been digitally altered to change the appearance of models and concerns have also been expressed about the portrayal of unattainable bodies. I welcome the ASA’s renewed commitment to tackling this situation and I believe we need to see greater education around these issues in schools. Advertising regulations must be updated to reflect the modern world we live in and protect our young people from being given a distorted and unrealistic view of beauty standards and their own body images.”