RUSHING of models and celebrities in adverts is fuelling eating disorders and depression among girls as young as five, leading body image experts are warning.
In a shocking new report, a group of over 40 doctors, psychologists and academics are calling for a ban on digitally retouching photos in advertising aimed at under-16s.
The researchers, from Britain, America and Australia, have written to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to say the clear majority of adolescent girls are experiencing problems with depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurity and body dissatisfaction as a result of the unnatural-looking girls featured in magazines.
In the past year, the ASA has received over 1,000 complaints about airbrushed adverts. This month, a survey by Girlguiding UK found that nearly half of girls aged 11 to 16 are dieting to be thin.
In October, a digitally altered image of 23-year-old model Filippa Hamilton in a Ralph Lauren advert sparked outrage when she was made to look emaciated.
In August this year, the Liberal Democrats said children under 16 should be protected from adverts featuring retouched images. But the ASA has so far refused to act, insisting that no scientific evidence has been provided to back up the complaints.
The authors of the Impact Of Media Images On Body Image And Behaviours report hope their findings are about to change that. Body dissatisfaction is a significant risk for physical health, mental health, and thus well-being, the report states.
Any factor, such as idealised images, that increases body dissatisfaction is thus an important influence on well-being. The letter to the watchdog adds: We hope that the advertising authorities in the UK and other countries will give this evidence serious consideration and see the urgent need for policy change. Sky News
Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson said: This paper spells out the real damage irresponsible airbrushing is doing to young womens physical and mental health.
The Advertising Standards Agency now has all the scientific evidence it needs to act.
:: The report was written by Dr Helga Dittmar, of the University of Sussex, and Dr Emma Halliwell, of the University of the West of England, and researchers from the US and Australia. Sky News