Body positivity is more important to consumers than ever

According to a new study, 57% of people are eager to see health and beauty brands promote body positivity.

This opinion ranked as the number one area where women want to see companies take action, even above climate change and LGBTQ+ equality. Nearly three-quarters of UK consumers (71%, rising to 74% among women) believe that brands should encourage body positivity by using models of different shapes, colours, ages, sizes, and abilities and by being more reflective of the people who buy their products.

Meanwhile only 7% of consumers said they still wanted to see ads with "aspirationally beautiful" models – a mere 5% of women and 9% of men.

The survey of 2,000 UK consumers of all age groups was commissioned by The Pull Agency, a creative agency specialising in healthcare and beauty brands.

When it comes to body positivity, more than half (59%) think everyone should be proud of their appearance, however, they look, and that people should never think judgementally about others based on their body shape or size.

Kathrin Rodriguez-Bruessau, head of brand strategy at The Pull Agency, comments: “Body positivity has become a mainstream issue for the health & beauty sector in recent years. As a result, there's been a backlash against the traditional use of “unrealistically perfect” models in favour of showing diversity in a more natural way that's reflective of real people. Consumers don't want to see photoshopped models or that brands are ‘ticking the box' to show every sub group of society.

“We believe that's only going to get stronger as time goes on and brands will need to change their marketing strategies accordingly.”

The survey also found that men are the group who feel least under-represented (22%) in advertising from health & beauty brands.

Half of male respondents (49%) said representation is about right, with a further 25% feeling that while ‘representation is not accurate', it was ‘not an issue'. However, it also noted that 64% of men still don't feel personally well represented.

Kathrin continues: “There seems to be a potential paradox in how men see themselves in health & beauty ads. Is the industry displaying gender inequality by only addressing notions of female body positivity? Some respondents commented on the fact that not all men are as fit, young, athletic and attractive as ads may be showing us.

"Of course, another reason for low personal representation of men could be that there are fewer beauty brands aimed at men. It's a continuing dilemma and there may be a need for men to be presented with more real-life models and encouraged to discuss the issue of body positivity.”