Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Mass Marketing damaging the health of young women

20 February, 2007

Sinn Féin Foyle Assembly election candidate Councillor Lynn Fleming has said that the marketing industry must be held accountable for the impact of its marketing campaigns after a joint BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat and 1xtra TXU survey that asked 25,000 people, mostly aged 17 to 34, how they felt about their bodies raised serious questions about how young women in particular feel about their bodies.

Cllr Fleming also called for more resources and services support young women.

Councillor Fleming said

"This survey indicating that 51% of young women would have surgery to improve their looks and that a third of those who are a size 12 think they are overweight is very very worrying. Almost half the women also said they had skipped a meal to lose weight and 8% had made themselves sick.

"We clearly need to redress this trend. Young women are particularly vulnerable to the pressures of mass marketing and the feeling that they have to conform to the images presented in glossy magazines and in the wall-to-wall TV programs about modelling and fashion and advertising.

"We need to counteract the impact of a mass marketing culture that creates this climate where young women where feel unhappy about their bodies. We also need to make the marketing industry more accountable. In recent weeks pressure has forced some junk food companies to change their marketing strategies that are aimed at children. We need to take this to another level because junk food and obesity are major problems at one end of the scale and problems associated with low self-esteem and eating disorders are major problems at the other end.

"Poor body image, an eating problem or an eating disorder is so much more than someone not liking or trying to fix their outer appearance. Studies have shown that the average age of onset for an eating disorder is 14 to 25 and comes at the same time young people are suffering from other pressures such as bullying, exams and a drink and drugs culture. The risks to a young women's health can be serious and can lead to further health problems and complications later in life.

"If the marketing industry is not prepared to take responsibility for its actions then clearly a much tougher response from government is required.

"We also need to provide services that support young women developing a healthy perception of their bodies and raise self-esteem. There is also a clear need to fund services that support people who develop eating disorders." ENDS

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