Over the weekend we received the above Facebook message from a concerned (super smart) teen which points out continued problems with Facebook advertising, and – more generally – how images of women in the media directly impact our youth.Nicole, who is 15-years-old, writes:
“I have a problem with some of the advertising I see on facebook that is targeted to me and other girls my age…I find it worrisome that about half the ads I see on my newsfeed are for losing belly fat, losing a couple jean sizes and getting slimmer in general…I know that constantly being asked “do you want to lose a couple pounds?” as I scroll through my newsfeed certainly plants a seed of doubt in my head as to whether or not my body is “good” enough.”
As Nicole mentions, these ads send dangerous messages to young girls (and all women) about health and body image. They also reinforce a very limiting beauty ideal. The fact that the ads are inserted amongst friends’ posts or updates from favorite pages – as Facebook does in the News Feed – is especially problematic. Because as inspiring as it is to hear Nicole speak so eloquently about the problems with these images, we can’t expect all teenagers to be as media literate as her – at some point the advertisers and the platform must take responsibility for their influence on kids.
These kinds of ads are harmful to people of all ages, but shouldn’t Facebook at least have different standards – and reviewers – for those images being shown to youth? And if they already do this, why are such clearly negative ads being approved for 15-year-olds?
You can notify Facebook about the flaws in their advertising model on their official page. And tweet Zaggorra (the brand in the first ad*) with #NotBuyingIt, asking that they stop targeting this ad at 15-year-old girls – or pull it completely.
If anyone finds the contact information for the second advertiser, please leave it in the comments.
Written by Imran Siddiquee at MissRepresentation.org. Follow him on Twitter @imransiddiquee