Culture behind body shaming is changing says Notre Dame lecturer


Marilyn Bromberg-Krawitz.
Marilyn Bromberg-Krawitz.

ADVERTISEMENTS have been using skinny girls to sell for decades but one University of Notre Dame lecturer believes a change is happening, as people and governments begin to push against the portrayal of unhealthy body types, especially through advertising.

Lecturer and lawyer Marilyn Bromberg-Krawitz believes the publicised ideal body for women has been unhealthily thin for more than 50 years, citing a recent study of 3000 models worldwide that found 94 per cent of them would be classified as being underweight.

“When a woman compares herself to an image of these kinds of women, her body image can be impacted negatively if she thinks she is larger than the model, and this can be a factor that contributes to her developing an eating disorder,” she said.

However, she said “a revolution is happening”, with public backlash against such images encouraging governments worldwide to introduce laws to change things.

In England, Transport for London, a body similar to Transperth, has banned ads in public transport stations, stops and vehicles that could be seen to promote an unrealistic or unhealthy body shape.

The Trondheim municipal council in Norway banned all advertising in public areas that could contribute to a negative body image and images that were photoshopped needed to have a disclaimer saying so.

The French and Israeli Governments have also passed similar photoshopping laws.

Dr Bromberg-Krawitz said while these laws were a good start, there still needed to be a lot of research before more countries introduced the laws.

“I think people in western countries are becoming more conscious about the impact that images and portrayals of unhealthily thin women can have upon children, and girls especially,” she said.

“Even thought it is known that images of unhealthily thin models can negatively impact upon the self-esteem of the people who view them, it does not necessarily mean that the bans regarding these images will be a factor that helps to improve the public’s body image.

“I think that we need to research the impact of the ban on these advertisements to learn exactly how they impact on the public’s body image.”

She believed there could be a shift in mentality within her lifetime.

“I think that there will be a time, in our lifetime, when the number of Australians with poor body image, particularly among young Australians, has significantly decreased from the number who suffer form poor body image today,” she said.

“I am dedicating a significant part of my professional life to make this happen, for as long as it takes.”