Fashion Marketing and Negative Body Image: From Love Island to Photoshop…

Marketing is one of the most important aspects of fashion – without it, the products wouldn’t sell! The fashion market is extremely competitive, with new youth-targeted fashion brands constantly launching online with the biggest challenge being to stand out.

As a result, brands are looking for new ways to engage their target audience through more creative advertising techniques, however these are not always positive in the eyes of the consumer, leaving us feeling inadequate when it comes to our body image.

Love Island is a huge marketing success story

Why do marketers care about Love Island?

  1. Around 58% of viewers are female

  2. More than 50% viewers are ages 16 and 34 (also known as Millennial’s and Gen Z)

  3. Around 50% of the audience is in the C2DE bracket – the two lower social and economic groups

  4. It reached an audience of 6 million at its peak, through both TV and online

  5. It sparks interest and discussion on social media

In other words, it reaches audiences that other shows do not – young, females, which is proven more difficult nowadays as these audiences are moving away from TV to streaming companies like Netflix. This is the reason fashion brands including Missguided and I Saw It First sponsor the hit show – with sales increasing by 40%.

Love Island is an excellent way to reach this audience. However, it does also come with risks. Love Island has been criticised for its lack of body diversity, with positivity and body confidence activists criticising the dating show for failing to cast and show a real representation of our current society.

Due to this, viewer obsession over their own body shape and size comes as no surprise, given that all contests represent a body type which for most people is unattainable – They’re toned, long legged and perfectly bronzed. Only having people who look a specific way serves to perpetuate the idea that you need to be thin to be deemed attractive and worthy of love.

And the ‘Love Island Effect’ doesn’t stop after the show…

These marketing tactics continue with islanders turning ‘influencers’ securing various brand deals. In a recent article by The Mirror, 2020 islander Molly Smith is criticised for promoting a product that apparently the immune system in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, losing weight by drinking only smoothies for a day. The post faced backlash with her followers flooding her social media with negative comments, including one stating: “You don’t need to drink all this to look good, people need to learn to be happy in themselves as they are”.

And she isn’t the only celebrity to face this backlash with many promoting dieting products in an irresponsible way, for example, islander Georgia Harrison stating she had been taking v24Gummies over a long period of time to maintain her slim figure. However it was clear from the ads she did not need to lose weight in to achieve a healthy weight.

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) were concerned this created the impression that it was necessary or advisable for those who aspired to her body shape and lifestyle to use products that suppressed their appetite. The photos in her ads were also edited to make her waist look even smaller with the images not representative of her real body shape, giving a damaging message to her young audience.

Fashion Brands and Photoshop

Although many brands are choosing to ditch Photoshop and leave their photos unedited, fashion brands including Boohoo are being accused of going against their ethos of being an ‘inclusive brand’, photoshopping models on their site to appear ‘thinner’.

Boohoo altering the shape of its models sends a very damaging message to people, particularly young girls and women, who frequently shop on the site. As a brand with such a big influence on young women in particular, who stock clothes for a range of body types (including plus size), Boohoo shouldn’t be altering the body shape of any of their models.

Many women of all ages feel pressured to look perfect and a lot of people, including men, edit their body shape now when they post photos on social media because of this. Not only are brands editing their models<