TV Ads featuring muscular physiques are making Australian men self-conscious about their own bodies, a study has found.
The ‘Differential media effects on male body satisfaction and mood’ study conducted by the University of the Sunshine Coast found TVCs to be the most damaging form of media for male body image.
TVC was the only media format that led to body dissatisfaction, while music video clips, still images where the model was posed, or still images where the model was active did not result in any issues.
“Men who viewed television commercials reported a significant drop in body satisfaction and greater social comparison,” said authors of the study Andrew Allen and Kate E. Mulgrew.
“Our findings suggest that televised depictions may be particularly detrimental to men’s body image, which may be due to increased social comparison processes.”
The study quizzed men aged between 17 and 35 on how they felt about their bodies before and after viewing the different ads.
It showed examples of men both topless and fully clothed, trying to find examples of the ‘ideal’ male body.
The compilation of TVCs the study’s subjects were shown resulted in an average 11 per cent drop in body perception.
As for why TVCs were so much more damaging than the other ad formats, the research hypothesised it could be due to “this content may be more relatable to viewers as opposed to still images and music clips which present somewhat of a fantasy for one’s life”.
“If so, the increased relatability may have triggered increased social comparison, which in turn resulted in greater body dissatisfaction.”
The AANA last year updated its code of ethics to ensure advertising is not associated with an unrealistic body image.
The change means advertising and marketing communication must now not portray an unrealistic ideal body image by portraying body shapes or features that are unrealistic or unattainable through healthy practices.
Commenting on the changes at the time the Butterfly Foundation CEO Christine Morgan said: “Advertisers have a moral and social responsibility to educate themselves and be diverse in their portrayal of body shapes and sizes.
“Over-representation in popular culture, of which advertising is a part, of so-called ‘ideal’ bodies can trigger body dissatisfaction and translate into dangerous behaviours and in some cases, eating disorders.”
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