More than a quarter of women feel advertising pressure on their looks and actions

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

Despite an improvement over the course of the last three years, the proportion of women who say ads make them feel like they’re not good enough sits at 31%, while 28% say they feel pressure to look and act a certain way.

This is down from 49% of UK women who felt the same pressure in 2017, with a quarter in 2020 saying that perception of women in both society and advertising has improved. The research, released today, was conducted by media agency UM, surveying 2,000 Brits aged over 18.

Recently, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the above PrettyLittleThing ad for being "overly sexualised" - and today's research implies that it is having an effect.

The study also found that 27% of women describe themselves as a "feminist", a stat down from 46% in 2017.

Those surveyed stated that the most common female stereotype is ‘bimbo’ - which 55% found offensive - followed by ‘bitch’ - deemed offensive by 74%.

Michael Brown, Partner, Cross-culture and Insight at UM, 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.”