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Body Image of Older Adults in Magazine Advertisements: A Content
Analysis of Their Body Shape and Portrayal
Tom Robinson and Mark Callister
Brigham Young University
Department of Communications
Provo, UT 84602
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RUNNING HEAD: Body Image of Older Adults
Because body disturbance, eating disorders, and the drive for
thinness, are all conditions that effect older individuals, the
images of older adults in the advertisements of national magazines
can have a lasting impression. These media images compete with real
life role models as the predominant source for body comparisons among
both men and women This study uses a content analysis to determine
what body image of older adults is portrayed in national magazine
advertisements. The findings indicate that magazines present an
"ideal image" of older people that is healthy, happy and of an
average body weight. Given the proclivity of older people to make
comparisons from media images of peers and the potential for many to
suffer from these comparisons in terms of eating disorders, feelings
of inadequacy, and dissatisfaction, a concern arises over the
prevalence of the "ideal body image" that abounds in these portrayals.
As baby boomers increase in age, the number of older Americans is
predicted to increase to over 86 million by the year 2050 (U.S.
Census Bureau, 2004). According to the American Association of
Retired Persons, 5,000 people turn 65 every day. In fact, as the
older population continues to grow, its members will begin to
outnumber the teenagers of America by a 2-to-1 ratio (Doka,
1992). Proof of this growth is due to the expansion of life
expectancy. With modern advancements in medicine and the increased
availability of information on living healthy, Americans are taking
better care of themselves, eating healthier, exercising more, and
seeing their doctors on a regular basis (Wellner, 2003). For example,
a male born in 1995 could expect to live to be 71 and a female to 79
on average; however, by the year 2050 the average life expectancy is
predicted to increase to 79 years for males and 84 years for females
(Hoyert, Kung, Smith, 2005).
Even with their increased numbers, healthier lifestyle, and
life longevity, older adults continue to experience negative
stereotypes and attitudes toward them, their ways of thinking, and
their abilities (Wellner, 2003). The media continues to portray older
people as, "institutionalized, in poor health, senile, constipated,
incontinent, and either extremely poor or very wealthy" (Deets, 1993,
p. 134). Research has found that when older individuals are exposed
to these negative images they tend to internalize and believe them
(Hummert, 1990; Levy, 1996, 2000).
Studies have shown that negative images of aging can have a
powerful psychological and physiological impact on older people. A
study conducted at the Harvard Medical School study found that
viewing either positive or negative images of aging had a significant
effect on older people's ability to walk (Hausdorff, Levy & Wei,
1999). Older individuals who were shown positive images walked
faster and appeared spryer while older individuals who were shown
negative images walked slower and more hunched over. Gunter and
Wykes (2005) note that "an important psychological mechanism that may
underpin mediated influences upon body self-perceptions is the
tendency for individuals to make comparisons between themselves and
the role models" (p. 154). These media images compete with real life
role models as the predominant source for body comparisons among both
men and women (Gunter & Wykes).
For those older individuals who frequently consume media
images, whether in print or broadcast sources, the realistic
portrayals of people that characterize these sources may form the
basis for many of their conceptions of the ideal body image. Gunter
and Wykes (2005) state that "exposure to the media-portrayed thin
ideal is related to eating pathology and suggests that women may
directly model disordered eating behavior presented in the media" (p. 161).
However, women are not the only ones impacted by media
portrayals. Research indicates that males experience body image
disturbance (the muscular body) as frequently as females (the thin
body) (Cohane & Pope, 2001). In fact, as men age their feelings of
unattractiveness increases "suggesting that the body image of males
is more affected by the aging process" (Paxton & Phythian, 1999, p.
119). The purpose of this study, therefore, is to explore the body
image portrayals and physical characteristics of older men and women
in the advertisements of national magazines.
Review of Literature
Research has recently found that body disturbance, eating
disorders, and the drive for thinness, conditions generally
associated with adolescent and college-age women, do occur in older
individuals (Wills & Olivieri, 1998; Zerbe, 2003). Hsu and Zimmer
(1988) found in their research "that the clinical picture of eating
disorders in the elderly resembles closely that in younger patients"
(p. 137). The psychological and physical changes a person goes
through during the aging process and menopause are similar to the
changes an adolescent goes through during puberty and menarche which
have been found to produce eating and weight related disorders
(Gupta, 1990; Lewis & Cachelin, 2001). Researchers have discovered
that with older persons, the onset of an eating disorder may be
triggered by a fear of growing old, the fear of gaining weight, a
major separation in their life such as the death of a loved one, a
delayed adolescent crisis, a highly restrictive diet, the denying of
an illness, a prior eating disorder, or the social pressures to be
thin (Hsu & Zimmer, 1988; Paxton & Pythian, 1999; Price, Giannini, &
Colella, 1985; Gupta, 1990).
Hsu and Zimmer (1988) observed that even older women are
giving into the social pressure to be slender. In fact, the concerns
most women experience regarding aging focus on body image and
attractiveness, which can "lead the woman at midlife to feel just as
dissatisfied with herself and her body as a younger woman" (Zerbe,
2003, p. 81). The social pressures, perpetuated by the media, include
the concerns of growing old, the desire to stay young, and that being
thin helps maintain a young, attractive, more sexual appearance
(Lewis & Cachelin, 2001). Park (2005) reports in her review of
literature that studies "have consistently identified the
sociocultural emphasis on thinness as the likely primary cause of the
development of these disorders [anorexia nervosa and bulimia
nervosa]" (p. 595). In sum, the research does provide evidence that
older women are just as susceptible as teens to the sociocultural
emphasis on thinness, an emphasis that is further reinforced through
consumption of mediated images and messages (Hsu & Zimmer, 1988;
Lewis & Cachelin, 2001; Zerbe, 2003; Park, 2005).
Relevant research in media content has observed trends in
coverage of health and fitness-related issues in magazines and on
television. For example, in a content analysis of the top rated
women's magazines published from 1959 to 1989, the researchers report
an increase in the number of diet and exercise articles and an ideal
body size for women that continues to grow thinner over time
(Wiseman, Gray, Mosimann, & Ahrens, 1992), mirroring a similar
pattern in teen magazines where the messages lead young women to
believe that the image of beauty and success is one of being thin and
staying slim (Evans, Rutberg, Sather, & Turner, 1991). Another
content analysis of women's magazines covering a period of 27 years
found that advertisements for food had significantly increased the
number of health and weight-loss claims (Klassen, Wauer, & Cassel,
1991). Similar research reports that the majority of products
advertised by older characters centered on health related products,
in addition to insurance and financial services (Robinson, 1998;
Bramlett-Solomon & Subramanian, 1999).
Beyond the media portrayals of physical health and fitness,
researchers have also examined the mental health and personality
portrayals of older individuals (Bramlett-Solomon & Subramanian,
1999; McConatha, Schnell, & McKenna, 1999; Miller, Miller, McKibbin,
& Pettys, 1999; Robinson, 1998). Using content analyses of
advertisements in top circulating magazines, these studies found that
overall the magazine advertisements contained a positive portrayal of
the older characters and that each magazine only contained a small
number of negative stereotypes. Miller et al. (1999), for instance,
reported that no characters were portrayed as "a recluse, vulnerable,
severely impaired or despondent" (p. 333). Robinson stated that 46.4%
of the older characters were portrayed as happy and content and that
most of the older characters were shown outdoors (68.3%).
Two important theories relevant to the potential impact of
mediated images and messages of older individual's self-image are
social comparison theory and cultivation theory. Social comparison
theory states that people establish their personal identity through
making comparisons between themselves and others who have specific,
valued attributes (Festinger, 1954). The theory assumes that
individuals make comparisons between themselves and individuals they
deem as being ideal or desirable. Many of the models and celebrities
seen in the media are a source for this unrealistic comparison in
addition to individuals from a person's own life. Although these
comparisons have been shown in some cases to lead to short-term
increases in motivation for self-improvement, they typically result
in long-term discouragement, negative affect, and body image
disturbance, particularly when the comparisons lead to the
realization that the ideal portrayed in the media is difficult, if
not impossible, to obtain (Thomsen, 2002). Research in social
comparison theory has found that the more comparisons made, the more
dissatisfaction people feel toward their own body (Gunter & Wykes,
2005). There does seem to be a difference in the way that men and
women make comparisons to media images. Men are not as likely to make
upward comparisons with media models and celebrities as women (Gunter
& Wykes, 2005). We do know that older people are heavy consumers of
the media and therefore, inundated with the media's perception of
what the ideal body image should be for older individuals.
The second theory that helps explain the media's effects on
body disturbance is cultivation theory. According to this theory, the
media have a significant impact in shaping or "cultivating" people's
views of social reality. Cultivation theory holds, therefore, that
individuals who spend a considerable amount of time involved with
media images are more likely to be influenced by how the media
depicts social reality. It is the continual, long-term exposure that
exercises a subtle impact to which cultivation theory addresses.
Repeated exposure to stereotypical images cultivates beliefs,
assumptions, and common conceptions of societal facts and norms, and
such exposure can influence individual conceptions of reality,
standards or judgment, attitudes, thoughts, and behavior (Gerbner &
Gross, 1976; Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorielli 1994). Therefore,
individuals who are exposed to a heavy dose of media models and
celebrities who display the thin ideal may have a distorted view of
what is an acceptable and normal body image. This is especially true
if the individual's real-life experiences are not different from what
they see in the media.
This study, therefore, explores the images of older people as
portrayed in popular general interest magazines. Of particular
interest are the possible recurring images or portrayal patterns of
older people in terms of physical, mental, and personality
characteristics. Understanding how magazines present older people
to the reading public can provide important insights into the nature
of images from which older people may make comparisons and from which
other viewing publics may form perceptions and attitudes.
The following research questions will guide this inquiry:
RQ1: How many older people are pictured in the advertisements in the
top general interest magazines?
RQ2: How are older people portrayed, in terms of their physical
characteristics, in the advertisements in the top general interest magazines?
RQ3: How are older people portrayed, in terms of their mental and
personality characteristics, in the advertisements in the top general
RQ4: What is the body image of older people that is portrayed in the
advertisements in the top general interest magazines?
RQ5: Is the overall portrayal of older characters in the
advertisements in the top general interest magazines positive or negative?
Magazines were selected for the content analysis because
researchers have found that the relationship between eating disorders
was stronger for magazine consumption than for other media use
(Gunter & Wykes, 2005). The sampling frame for this study was
selected based on the top eight national, general interest magazines
with the highest older adult readership. The circulation numbers were
taken from the 2004 Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI) report. Mediamark
is the leading provider of syndicated consumer magazine audience data
in the United States. The national magazines selected were Reader's
Digest, Better Homes and Gardens, People, National Geographic's, AARP
The Magazine, TV Guide, Family Circle, and Time. One issue from each
month, November 2004 through October 2005, was coded. For weekly
magazines, the last issue of each month was selected for examination.
Because AARP The Magazine is published bimonthly, the past 12 issues
were selected for coding. From the total of 96 issues, each full-page
advertisement was analyzed and each advertisement that contained an
older person was coded.
There was no attempt to control for duplication of
advertisements as many advertisers utilize high frequency of
repetition as a technique to achieve brand recognition. Two
independent coders were trained on how to use the content analysis
instrument; coders were instructed to identify older individuals, the
role they portrayed in the advertisement, their personality traits,
their physical characteristics, and their body image. The list of
roles, personality traits, and physical characteristics were gathered
from an extensive review of literature (Dellmann-Jenkins, 1997;
Guerrero, DeVito & Hecht, 1999; Hummert et al., 1994; Peterson, 1992;
Robinson, 1998; Robinson & Anderson, 2006; Swayne & Greco, 1987;
Ursic et al., 1986). Body image of the older characters was
determined by comparing the character's actual body size to Thompson
and Gray's (1995) Contour Drawing Rating Scale. The drawing scale
provides images from very thin to obese that the coders could easily
match to the images in the magazine advertisements.
The coders were instructed to identify all older characters
who meet some of the following subjective criteria: (1) an appearance
of retirement, (2) extensive gray/white hair, (3) wrinkles of the
skin in hands and face, (4) extensive loss of hair or balding, (5)
use of an ambulatory aid such as a cane or wheelchair, (6) the parent
of a middle-aged son or daughter, and (7) evidence of grandchildren
or great-grandchildren (Gantz et al., 1980; Bishop & Krause, 1984;
Peterson, 1992; Robinson, 1998; Robinson & Anderson, 2006; Swayne &
Greco, 1987). A person was determined to be old if they met a
majority of the above criteria. Only those older people whose faces
and/or bodies were shown and could be identified by age and gender
were counted. Advertisement that contained a older celebrity endorser
were not counted because "celebrities are nearly always depicted in
positive terms and are not representative of the population as a
whole" (Miller et al., 1999, p. 326).
The coders were instructed on how to recognize possible
problems in judgment that might occur during the coding process. A
coding sheet was devised to assist in noting information about each
of the old characters. In an attempt to minimize any coder bias that
may have existed in the findings, after an intercoder reliability
check was made, the data from each coder were compared and one set of
data was produced for analysis purposes. Any questions or
discrepancies that arose during the process were discussed by the
coders and corrected. When a disagreement did arise, the coders were
allowed to view the advertisement in question again so a decision
could be made. To determine intercoder reliability, Holsti's (1969)
reliability formula was used to calculate agreement for the
approximate age of the older character (83% agreement), the
characters' level of activity (98% agreement), the characters' health
(89% agreement), and the characters' body image (93% agreement).
Finally, an evaluation was made of the older character's
overall portrayal as either positive or negative. This methodology
followed the positive and negative dimensions established by Schmidt
and Boland (1986) who defined negative stereotypes of older people
as, "despondent, mildly impaired, vulnerable, severely impaired,
shrew/curmudgeon, recluse, nosey neighbor and bag lady/vagrant" and
positive stereotypes of older people as "John Wayne conservative,
liberal matriarch/patriarch, perfect grandparent, and sage" (p. 258).
Therefore, decisions about the positive or negative portrayal of a
character were made after considering all physical and personality
traits and body image.
From the eight magazines coded, there were 4,698
advertisements, of which 2,219 had people and 290 (13.1%) contained
at least one older person (see Table 1).
Table 1: Total Number of Advertisements with Older Adults by Magazine
Total Number Number of Ads Number of Ads
Magazine of Ads w/ People w/ Older People
TV Guide 214 86 29 33.7%
Reader's Digest 640 256 33 12.9%
AARP The Magazine 116 134 70 52.2%
Better Homes & Gardens 1401 675 61 9.0%
People 683 345 16 4.6%
National Geographic 285 131 14 10.7%
Family Circle 795 373 24 6.4%
Time 420 219 46 21.0%
TOTALS 4,554 2,219 290 13.1%
As expected, AARP The Magazine had the largest number of
advertisements with an older character (52.2%), but TV Guide (33.7%)
and Time (21.0%) also had large percentages (see Table 1). Better
Homes and Gardens (9.0%), Family Circle (6.4%) and People (4.6%) had
a lower percentage of advertisements with an older character, which
may be a reflection of the younger target audience of these
magazines. There were a total of 3,923 people in the advertisements
and 280 (7.1%) older individuals (see Table 2). The 280 excluded 63
older celebrities that were not coded. Again, AARP The Magazine
(40.4%) had the largest number of older people in their
advertisements and People (1.5%) had the fewest number.
Table 2: Total Number of People and Older Adults in Advertisements by Magazine
Total Number Number of
Magazine of People Older People
TV Guide 164 16 9.8%
Reader's Digest 640 39 6.1%
AARP The Magazine 218 88 40.4%
Better Homes & Gardens 1128 67 5.9%
People 723 11 1.5%
National Geographic 200 14 7.0%
Family Circle 642 26 4.0%
Time 392 19 4.8%
TOTALS 3923 280 7.1%
Physical Description of the Older Characters
Fifty-six percent of the older people were male and 44% were
female. The racial makeup of the older characters was 84.7%
Caucasian, 13.2% African American, 1.3% Asian, 0.3% Hispanic, and
0.6% coded as other. The characters were seen most often as being in
their 60s (60.3%) with 27.9% in their 50s and 11.8% in their 70s or
above. The portions of the body shown in the advertisements were
distributed evenly between full body (30.3%), partial body (38.5%),
and head only (31.2%).
The older characters' activity level was primarily inactive
(60.3%) which included all portrayals where the older person was
sitting, standing, or posing for the camera; however, 39.7% were
shown as either active (e.g., walking, gardening, shopping, yoga) or
very active (e.g., jogging, bicycling, swimming, surfing). The health
status of the older characters was overwhelmingly "good" (97.4%) with
only 2.6% of the characters shown with "minor limitations" and there
were no portrayals of older adults with "poor or declining health."
The older characters were shown with a limited amount of wrinkles
(73.1%), a moderate physical appearance (91.4%), not in need of
glasses (90.0%), and not using a physical aid such as a wheelchair,
cane, or walker (98.6%). Only 2% of the males were shown as bald or
balding and 77.4% of the males and females had gray hair. The older
characters were cast in a number of positive roles including a
model/spokesperson (57.2%), a grandparent (14.5%), a husband or wife
(9.0%), a worker or boss (7.2%), and a parent to a middle-aged adult
(4.8%). They were pictured most often outdoors (34.5%) and in the home (14.5%).
Personality and Mental Description of the Older Characters
Overall, the mental and personality traits of the older
characters were positive. Eighty-three percent were shown as happy
and content, 23.4% as friendly, 15.9% as loving, and 15.2% as
intelligent. Only a small number of the older characters had negative
characteristics such as angry or grumpy (3.8%), or sad (0.3%), and
there were no characters shown as forgetful, senile, eccentric,
overly affectionate, helpless, nosey, or lonely.
Body Image of the Older Characters
Body image was only calculated on those characters whose
partial body or full body was shown in the advertisements.
Advertisements that displayed the head only were not coded leaving
189 characters' body image coded. The body image of the older
characters was predominantly average (80.4%) with only a small
percentage of the characters shown as either thin (4.8%) or
overweight (14.8%). When the body image numbers are broken down by
gender (see Table 3) the percentage of underweight and overweight
females does slightly increase but the largest percentage are still
of average weight. Table 4 shows the Body
Table 3: Body Image by Gender
Gender Thin Average Overweight TOTAL
Male 3 2.9% 85 82.5% 15 14.6% 103
Female 6 7.0% 67 77.9% 13 15.1% 86
TOTAL 9 4.8% 152 80.4% 28 14.8% 189
Image numbers divided by race. The largest percentage (86.9%) of the
Caucasians were shown with an average body weight and only a small
percentage were shown as either underweight (4.9%) or overweight
(8.2%). However, the 26 older African American characters were
divided evenly between average (53.8%) and overweight (46.2%). The
only Asian character was portrayed as overweight and the only
Hispanic character was shown with head only so body image was not measured.
Table 4: Body Image by Race
Race Thin Average Overweight TOTAL
Caucasian 9 5.6% 137 85.1% 15 9.3% 161
African American 0 14 53.8% 12 46.2% 26
Asian 0 0 1 100% 1
Hispanic 0 0 0 0
Other 0 1 100% 0 1
TOTAL 9 4.8% 152 80.4% 28 14.8% 189
Overall Portrayal of the Older Characters
The variable the coders were asked to determine, based on the
overall representation of the older character, was if the characters'
portrayals were positive or negative. The results (see Table 5)
indicate that 333 of the characters (97.9%) had an overall positive
portrayal and seven of older characters (2.1%) were portrayed in a
negative manner. Time, Reader's Digest, and Better Homes and Gardens
were the only magazines that contained a negative portrayal.
Table 5: Overall Portrayal of Older Characters
Magazine Positive Negative
TV Guide 16 0
Reader's Digest 37 2
AARP The Magazine 88 0
Better Homes & Gardens 66 1
People 11 0
National Geographic 14 0
Family Circle 26 0
Time 15 4
TOTALS 273 (97.5%) 7 (2.5%)
The purpose of this study, in addition to building upon the
research of Robinson (1998), Bramlette-Solomon and Subramanian
(1999), Miller et al. (1999) and McConatha et al. (1999) on the
physical and mental characteristics of older characters, was to
determine what body image of older men and women appear in national
magazines. As found in the earlier research, older characters are
underrepresented in the number of advertisements in which they appear
and in terms of their total numbers. The 2000 United States Census
data reports that the number of adults 65 years and older was 12.4%
of the population. Older characters did appear in 13.1% of the
advertisements, which is a large increase from studies conducted in
the 1980s that reported percentages of less than 5% (Gantz,
Gartenberg, & Rainbow, 1980; Kvasnicka, Beymer, & Perloff, 1982).
Older characters were, however, underrepresented in the total
number of people appearing in the advertisements (7.1%). While they
were in a larger number of advertisements, their total number is well
below their actual numbers in the population. Other researchers who
also found that the older population was underrepresented in
advertising, concluded that the advertisers must not see the older
population as major players in the consumer market (Gantz et al.,
1980; Peterson, 1992; Robinson, Duet, & Smith, 1995; Swayne & Greco,
1987). They did advertise a wide variety of products (e.g.,
entertainment, food, automobiles, retail stores and electronics);
however, 50% of the products that featured an older character were
for medicines and medical related products and an additional 5% were
for insurance and financial institutions.
As was found in earlier research, the older character in this
study were presented in a positive manner even though the 97.5%
positive portrayals. Even the physical and mental characteristics
have stayed consistently positive over the past few years.
Researchers have been concerned that if advertisers continually
portray older adults in a negative manner that the images could have
detrimental effects on the images older adults have of themselves
(Hausdorff, Levy & Wei, 1999). The results of this study clearly
indicate that in magazines with a large older adult readership, a
negative image of older people hardly exists. The older characters
in this sample of magazines were primarily portrayed as grandparent
or spouse, white, in their 60s, of an average physical appearance,
gray hair, limited wrinkles, not in need of glasses, happy and
content, in good health, physically active, outdoors, and of an
average body weight.
One area of concern is the over representation of older
Caucasians (84.7) who make up about 60% of the 55+ population, and
the under representation older minorities. Older African Americans
were slightly under represented with 13.2% appearing in magazine
advertisements in comparison to 14.8% of the U.S. population. Older
Hispanics were grossly underrepresented as the make up 10.3% of the
U.S. population but were less than 1% (0.3%) of the older characters
in magazine advertisements. Older Asians are also extremely
underrepresented as they make up 14.7% of the older population and
they represented only 1.3% of the older characters.
With the majority of the older characters having a body image
that is considered average and with only a few outliers shown as very
thin or overweight, this research clearly indicates what body type is
considered by the advertisers to be a normal size. Research on body
image disturbance that focuses on the media-generated "idealized
images" or "thin ideal" observes that these images do have an
influence on young women who attempt to model these behaviors in
order to look like actresses or models. Studies have shown that older
women, who are subjected to an ideal female image in the media, can
be affected the same as young women (Hsu & Zimmer, 1988).
As stated earlier, the social pressures felt and the mediated
images seen by older women deal mostly with growing old, the desire
to stay young, and that being thin will help them maintain a young,
attractive appearance (Lewis & Cachelin, 2001). The results of this
study clearly shows that advertising leans toward the "ideal image"
of an older adult in the models they select for their advertisements.
Carrying a responsibility to present products and services in a
positive light, advertisers naturally create advertisements that
establish positive associations through appealing portrayals.
However, given the proclivity of older people to make comparisons
from media images of peers and the potential for many to suffer from
these comparisons in terms of eating disorders, feelings of
inadequacy and dissatisfaction, a concern arises over the prevalence
of the "ideal" body image that abounds in these portrayals. The
concern is most pronounced for older adults who are heavy magazine
readers. For such readers, the cumulative message from these
magazines is one in which most older people are living vibrant,
healthy, content, socially-active lives and doing so in a fit and
functioning body. While in some respects this is good news,
especially given research showing that many mediated sources have
placed older people in harmful and negatively stereotypical
depictions. However, the concern rests with older readers who are
susceptible to unfair and personally harmful social comparisons that
arise from the cultivation of these cumulative images. Cultivation
theory explains that because people use the mass media as a source
for information and socialization, repeated portrayals can have a
powerful and lasting effect on them (Gerbner et al., 1994).
Therefore, just as negative images can have a negative effect on the
viewer, a consistent stream of idealized images, over time, can have
similar detrimental effects, especially for those older, overweight
readers who may lean toward unrealistic and harmful social
comparisons. Such readers may suffer from lower self body perception
and feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction.
As noted in social comparison theory, individuals establish
their personal identities by making comparisons between themselves
and others who have specific, valued attributes they see as desired
or normal. Thomsen (2002) found that although these comparisons can
lead to some life changes, they often result in the person becoming
discouraged and developing a negative self image. When the
comparisons lead to the realization that the ideal image portrayed in
the media is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain it may lead to
the person developing body image disturbance.
This state of affairs poses a challenge for magazine
advertisers who are driven to create effective magazine
advertisements through surrounding and pairing their featured
products with appealing, positive, and compelling images. However,
advertisers also operate under the pressure, whether internally or
externally applied, to create advertisements that reflect sensitivity
to social issues and that do not negatively impact audiences that may
experience certain vulnerabilities.
The emerging tension requires magazine advertising executions
that reflect sensitivity to these issues, yet can still achieve
desired outcomes. More realistic executions in which older characters
of diverse body types, fitness levels, attractiveness, and physical
capabilities are engaging in life events in a positive and appealing
manner may carry an attractive force that more successfully resonates
with older people. Arguably, such executions may find a more open
audience and an audience that can more closely identify with images
that do not trigger harmful comparisons, yet still accomplish
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