Anti-Anorexia PSA Ads–The Fashion Industry and the Institutionalization of Feminine Beauty and Body Ideals

–An abbreviated version of this post is cross-posted at Sociological Images

A Brazilian modeling agency, Star Models*, recently released a new series of anti-anorexia PSA advertisements that illustrate one of the ways ultra-thin body ideals characterizing women’s bodies in the fashion industry today are institutionalized. Fashion sketches anesthetize these bodies, with their exaggerated proportions, long slender limbs, and expressionless faces. The placement of real women alongside them, graphically altered to similar proportions, works to produce an understanding of eating disorders, body dissatisfaction, and beauty and body ideals as products of the cultures and industries in which they emerge.

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Sociology professors are constantly asking students to analyze what they might be taking for granted. One issue we take for granted is that the images on the left are what “fashion” looks like and ought to look like. That they are culturally recognizable as fashion sketches speaks to the ways in which hyper-thin feminine bodies are institutionalized at a fundamental level in the fashion industry today.

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