Advertisement

Slim Arms, Waist, Thighs and Hips, but Not the Breasts: Portrayal of Female Body Image in Hong Kong’s Magazine Advertisements

  • May Wong
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter examines slimming and breast-enhancing magazine advertisements produced by the burgeoning industry of beauty parlours in Hong Kong. Typically, these advertisements configure the human body as a physical resource amenable to extreme makeovers. By displaying before-and-after pictures of female celebrities who are hailed as their ‘spokespersons’, the beauty centres advertise the potential to modify female bodies to match an idealised mental image. The visual semiotic framework of Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen (Reading images: The grammar of visual design. London and New York: Routledge, 2006) is employed to reveal this act of manipulation of perceived body image. Specifically, this chapter addresses how the choreography of image and text operates in a social and cultural climate that increasingly values thinness and ample breasts, and how this climate concurrently normalises intervention in physical appearance.

Keywords

Magazine advertisements Slimming Breast augmentation Beauty Female body image 

References

  1. Barthes, Roland. 1977 [1964]. Rhetoric of the image. In Image, music, text, trans. and ed. Stephen Heath, 32–51. London: Fontana.Google Scholar
  2. Cash, Thomas, and Thomas Pruzinsky, eds. 1990. Body images: Development, deviance, and change. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 2002. A “negative body image”: Evaluating epidemiological evidence. In Body image: A handbook of theory, research, and clinical practice, ed. Thomas Cash and Thomas Pruzinsky, 269–276. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  4. Chan, Kara. 2006. Advertising and Hong Kong society. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong.Google Scholar
  5. Chan, Kara, and Yolanda Cheng. 2012. Portrayal of females in magazine advertisements in Hong Kong. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 22 (1): 78–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chan, Kara, Birgitte Tufte, Gianna Cappello, and Russell Williams. 2011. Tween girls’ perception of gender roles and gender identities: A qualitative study. Young Consumers: Insight and Ideas for Responsible Marketers 12 (1): 66–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chan, Zenobia, and Joyce Ma. 2002. Anorexic eating: Two case studies in Hong Kong. The Qualitative Report 7 (4): 24–35.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 2004. Aetiology of anorexia nervosa in Hong Kong: A social work qualitative inquiry. Child and Family Social Work 9 (2): 177–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chau, King Chun. 1997. Gender roles portrayals in print advertisements of youth’s popular magazines in Hong Kong: A content analysis. Unpublished undergraduate project, City University of Hong Kong.Google Scholar
  10. Cheong, Yin Yuen. 2004. The construal of ideational meaning in print advertisements. In Multimodal discourse analysis: Systemic-functional perspectives, ed. Kay O’Halloran, 163–195. London and New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  11. Eagly, Alice, Richard Ashmore, Mona Makhijani, and Laura Longo. 1991. What is beautiful is good: A meta-analytic review of research on the physical attractiveness stereotype. Psychology Bulletin 110 (1): 107–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Eagly, Alice, and Valerie Steffen. 1984. Gender stereotypes stem from the distribution of women and men into social roles. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 46 (4): 735–754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Elliott, Dorinda. 1996. Objects of desire. Newsweek, vol. 127, no. 7, 2 December: 41.Google Scholar
  14. Fardouly, Jasmine, Phillippa Diedrichs, Lenny Vartanian, and Emma Halliwell. 2015a. Social comparisons on social media: The impact of Facebook on young women’s body image concerns and mood. Body Image 13 (Mar.): 38–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. ———. 2015b. The mediating role of appearance comparisons in the relationship between media usage and self-objectification in young women. Psychology of Women Quarterly 39 (4): 447–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fardouly, Jasmine, Brydie Willburger, and Lenny Vartanian. 2018. Instagram use and young women’s body image concerns and self-objectification: Testing mediational pathways. New Media and Society 20 (4): 1380–1395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Featherstone, Mike. 1982. The body in consumer culture. Theory, Culture and Society 1 (2): 18–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Feng, Dezheng. 2011. Visual space and ideology: A critical cognitive analysis of spatial orientations in advertising. In Multimodal studies: Exploring issues and domains, ed. Kay O’Halloran and Bradley Smith, 55–75. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Festinger, Leon. 1957. A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Foucault, Michel. 1980. Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings: 1972–1977. Edited by Colin Gordon and translated by Colin Gordon, Leo Marshall, John Mepham, and Kate Soper. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  21. Fung, Anthony. 2002. Women’s magazines: Construction of identities and cultural consumption in Hong Kong. Consumption, Markets and Culture 5 (4): 321–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. ———. 2006. Gender and advertising: The promotional culture of whitening and slimming. In Advertising and Hong Kong Society, ed. Kara Chan, 171–181. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press.Google Scholar
  23. Fung, Anthony, and Eric Ma. 2000. Formal vs. informal use of television and sex-role stereotyping in Hong Kong. Sex Roles 42 (1/2): 57–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Furnham, Adrian, and Twiggy Mak. 1999. Sex-role stereotyping in television commercials: A review and comparison of fourteen studies done on five continents over 25 years. Sex Roles 41 (5–6): 413–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Furnham, Adrian, Twiggy Mak, and Liza Tanidjojo. 2000. An Asian perspective on the portrayal of men and women in television advertisements: Studies from Hong Kong and Indonesian television. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 30 (11): 2341–2364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Furnham, Adrian, and Stephanie Paltzer. 2010. The portrayal of men and women in television advertisements: An updated review of 30 studies published since 2000. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 51 (3): 216–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Garner, David, Paul Garfinkel, Donald Schwartz, and Michael Thompson. 1980. Cultural expectations of thinness in women. Psychological Reports 47 (2): 483–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Goldman, Robert, and Stephen Papson. 1996. Sign wars: The cluttered landscape of advertising. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  29. Goodman, Robyn, and Kim Walsh-Childers. 2004. Sculpting the female breast: How college women negotiate the media’s ideal breast image. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 81 (3): 657–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Halliday, Michael. 1978. Language as social semiotics. London: Arnold.Google Scholar
  31. ———. 1985. An introduction to functional grammar. London: Arnold.Google Scholar
  32. Heinberg, Leslie, and Kevin Thompson. 1992. Gender, target importance ratings and relation to body image disturbance. Journal of Social Behaviour and Personality 7 (2): 335–344.Google Scholar
  33. Hesse-Biber, Sharlene. 2007. The cult of thinness. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Hung, Kineta, Stella Li, and Russell Belk. 2007. Global understandings: Female readers’ perceptions of the new woman in Chinese advertising. Journal of International Business Studies 38 (6): 1034–1051.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. JayneStars Media. 2010. Is Sammi Cheng anorexic? JayneStars: Hong Kong celebrity news in English, 6 July. Accessed October 4, 2018. https://www.jaynestars.com/news/is-sammi-cheng-anorexic/.
  36. Kaganovsky, Lilya. 2012. The factory of gestures: Body language in film (review). Cinema Journal 51 (3): 168–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kim, Ji Won, and Makana Chock. 2015. Body image 2.0: Associations between social grooming on Facebook and body image concerns. Computers in Human Behavior 48 (July): 331–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Knobloch-Westerwick, Silvia, and Josselyn Crane. 2012. A losing battle: Effects of prolonged exposure to thin-ideal images on dieting and body satisfaction. Communication Research 39 (1): 79–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kowner, Rotem. 2002. Japanese body image: Structure and esteem scores in a cross-cultural perspective. International Union of Psychological Science 37 (3): 149–159.Google Scholar
  40. Kress, Gunther. 2010. Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Kress, Gunther, and Theo van Leeuwen. 2006. Reading images: The grammar of visual design. 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lai, Kelly. 2000. Anorexia nervosa in Chinese adolescents: Does culture make a difference? Journal of Adolescence 23 (5): 561–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lam, Ka Yin. 2006. How negative advertising works? Moderating and mediating effects on purchase intention of weight loss products and services. Honours degree project, School of Business, Hong Kong Baptist University.Google Scholar
  44. Lam, T.H., Stephanie Lee, Samantha Fung, S.Y. Ho, Peter Lee, and Sunita Stewart. 2009. Sociocultural influences on body dissatisfaction and dieting in Hong Kong girls. European Eating Disorders Review 17 (2): 152–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Langlois, Judith, Lisa Kalakanis, Adam Rubenstein, Andrea Larson, Monica Hallam, and Monica Smoot. 2000. Maxims or myths of beauty? A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin 126 (3): 390–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lee, Annisa. 2010. When distortion is normal: The media and body image disturbance among young people in Hong Kong. In Liberalising, feminising and popularising health communications in Asia, ed. Liew Kai Khiun, 183–195. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  47. Lee, Micky, and Anthony Fung. 2006. Media ideologies of gender in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.Google Scholar
  48. Lee, Sing. 1993. How abnormal is the desire for slimness? A survey of eating attitudes and behaviour among Chinese undergraduates in Hong Kong. Psychological Medicines 23 (2): 437–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lee, Sing, Tony Leung, Antoinette Lee, Hong Yu, and C.M. Leung. 1996. Body dissatisfaction among Chinese undergraduates and its implications for eating disorders in Hong Kong. International Journal of Eating Disorders 20 (1): 77–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Lemke, Jay. 1985. Ideology, intertextuality, and the notion of register. In Systemic perspectives on discourse, vol. 1: Selected theoretical papers from the 9th International Systemic Workshop, ed. James Benson and William Greaves, 275–294. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing.Google Scholar
  51. Leung, Freedom, Sharon Lam, and Sherrien Sze. 2001. Cultural expectations of thinness in Chinese women. Eating Disorders 9 (4): 339–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Low, Bobbi. 1979. Sexual selection and human ornamentation. In Evolutionary biology and human social behaviour, ed. Napoleon Chagnon and William Irons, 462–487. North Scituate, MA: Duxbury.Google Scholar
  53. Mabe, Annalise, Jean Forney, and Pamela Keel. 2014. Do you “like” my photo? Facebook use maintains eating disorder risk. International Journal of Eating Disorders 47 (5): 516–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Martínez Lirola, María, and Jan Chovanec. 2012. The dream of a perfect body come true: Multimodality in cosmetic surgery advertising. Discourse & Society 23 (5): 487–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. McNeill, David. 1992. Hand and mind: What gestures reveal about thought. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  56. Miller, Laura. 2006. Beauty up: Exploring contemporary Japanese body aesthetics. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  57. Mishra, Suman. 2017. From self-control to self-improvement: Evolving messages and persuasion techniques in weight loss advertising (1930–1990). Visual Communication 16 (4): 467–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Morris, Abigail, Troy Cooper, and Peter Copper. 1989. The changing shape of female fashion models. International Journal of Eating Disorders 8 (5): 593–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ng, Bo Sze. 2005. Slimming culture in Hong Kong: A sociological study. M.A. thesis, University of Hong Kong.Google Scholar
  60. Palmgreen, Philip. 1984. Uses and gratifications: A theoretical perspective. In Communication yearbook 8, ed. Robert Bostrom, 61–72. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  61. Pedersen, Isabel. 2002. Looking good on whose terms? Ambiguity in two Kellogg’s Special K® print advertisements. Social Semiotics 12 (2): 169–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Pollack, Andrew. 1996. Barbie’s journey in Japan. New York Times, 22 December.Google Scholar
  63. Richins, Marsha. 1991. Social comparison and the idealised images of advertising. Journal of Consumer Research 18 (1): 71–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Shiokawa, Kanako. 1999. Cute but deadly: Women and violence in Japanese comics. In Themes and issues in Asian cartooning: Cute, cheap, mad, and sexy, ed. John Lent, 93–125. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press.Google Scholar
  65. Singh, Devendra. 1993. Adaptive significance of female physical attractiveness: Role of waist-to-hip ratio. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 65 (2): 293–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Siu, Wai-Sum. 1996. Gender portrayal in Hong Kong and Singapore television advertisements. Journal of Asian Business 12 (3): 47–63.Google Scholar
  67. Somlak, Linda. 1993. Adult development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  68. Tam, Carmen, Cherry Ng, Man Yu Chan, and Betty Young. 2007. Disordered eating attitudes and behaviours among adolescents in Hong Kong: Prevalence and correlates. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 43: 811–817.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tiggemann, Marika, and Amy Slater. 2013. NetGirls: The Internet, Facebook, and body image concern in adolescent girls. International Journal of Eating Disorders 46 (6): 630–633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. ———. 2014. NetTweens: The Internet and body image concerns in preteenage girls. Journal of Early Adolescence 34 (5): 606–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Tiggemann, Marika, and Mia Zaccardo. 2015. “Exercise to be fit, not skinny”: The effect of fitspiration imagery on women’s body image. Body Image 15 (Sep.): 61–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. ———. 2018. “Strong is the new skinny”: A content analysis of #fitspiration images on Instagram. Journal of Health Psychology 23 (8): 1003–1011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. van Leeuwen, Theo. 2006. Towards a semiotics of typography. Information Design Journal 14 (2): 139–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. van Zoonen, Liesbet. 1994. Feminist media studies. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  75. Vandenbosch, Laura, and Steven Eggermont. 2012. Understanding sexual objectification: A comprehensive approach toward media exposure and girls’ internalisation of beauty ideals, self-objectification, and body surveillance. Journal of Communication 62 (5): 869–887.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Williamson, Judith. 1978. Decoding advertisements. London: Merion Boyars.Google Scholar
  77. Wisemen, Claire, James Gray, James Mosimann, and Anthony Ahrens. 1992. Cultural expectations of thinness in women: An update. International Journal of Eating Disorders 11 (1): 85–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • May Wong
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EnglishUniversity of Hong KongPok Fu LamHong Kong

Personalised recommendations