On the back of Urban Outfitter's debacle of showing a "thigh gap", Lynn Grefe, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association in the US has hit out at advertisers, saying they need a conscience.
The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently ruled that a controversial image of an underwear model’s thigh gap must be removed from Urban Outfitter’s U.K. website. The ASA said that the image is “irresponsible and harmful.” Kudos to the U.K.!
In a response, Urban Outfitters told the ASA that it’s “common practice to use slim models in the underwear industry” and that they thought she “had a naturally tall and slim physique.”
While it may be true that this particular model is naturally tall and slim, the advertising industry is still largely promoting images of bodies that are unattainable for the majority of the population, or encouraging a “thigh gap” to unwitting teens. What the industry needs firstly, is a conscience. Eating disorders, although treatable, still have the highest death rate of any psychiatric illness. And, we know that these over-the-top ads promoting thigh gaps, extreme thinness and non-stop diet promises continue to tell our young people that they are not good enough, translated to thin enough.
We know for a fact that these kind of images have a negative impact. 69 percent of American elementary school girls who read magazines say that the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape and 47 percent say the pictures make them want to lose weight. Eating disorders usually start with a diet.