The Beauty Myth and Female Consumers: The Controversial Role of Advertising

Recently, a small number of consumer researchers have voiced concern regarding the question of how and to what degree advertising involving thin/attractive endorsers is linked with chronic dieting, body dissatisfaction, and eating disorders in American females. To explore the broader context of this important and controversial issue, this paper draws upon a variety of disciplines and suggests directions for future research. First is a discussion of problems associated with chronic dieting and the diet industry. Next is an exploration of the prevalence, concomitants, and origins of body dissatisfaction in American females. The paper discusses existing advertising research that gives rise to several important propositions regarding the nature of the link between advertising and body dissatisfaction. The conculsion consists of recommendations for research and a brief discussion of public policy implications.