Women feel less pressured to get ‘the look’ from ads

protein worldThe clampdown on gender stereotyping in advertising might have got off to a rocky start but it seems to be having the desired effect, with a new study revealing that only a quarter (28%) of UK women now say they feel pressure from ads to look and act a certain way, compared to nearly half (49%) in 2017.

Back in August last year, the Advertising Standards Authority was accused of being heavy handed in its implementation of the new rules, after the IPA slated the regulator’s first decision to outlaw seemingly innocuous ads by Volkswagen and Mondelez UK brand Philadelphia.

But the new study by media agency UM among 2,000 Brits aged 18 and over – which was last run in 2017 – shows that a quarter of the UK population thinks the perception of women in both society and ads has changed for the better in the past three years.

Less than one in three women (31%) now say that ads make them feel like they are not good enough. Although still high, this is significantly down on the 44% who felt that way three years ago.

The research also found only a quarter (27%) of UK women would now self-define as “feminist”, down from 46% three years ago. That includes 30% of women aged 18-34, considerably down from the 54% of 18-24-year-olds and 69% of those aged 13-18 who identified themselves as feminists in 2017.

In addition, according to women the most common female stereotype still seen in popular culture and the media is “bimbo”, followed by “bitch”. Unsurprisingly, both are considered offensive by more than half of UK women (55% and 74%, respectively).

UM partner of cross-culture and insight Michael Brown said: “Since the ASA changed its rules, brands have had to be smarter in how they portray both men and women in their advertising. Unrealistic and insulting stereotypes will no longer pass muster.

“The decline in women who consider themselves as feminists is perhaps more concerning. It may be that fewer now feel the need to be feminist in a less stereotyped world, but it may also be that the word is seen to lack sufficient impact.”

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