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VIII Congreso Internacional de la AE-IC, Barcelona 2022

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Advertising as an industry of desire. Body stereotypes in TV ads addressed to children

Television advertising is for most children the first access to the symbolic world of consumption. Children in Spain are exposed to an average of nine thousand advertising impacts per year, including those appealing the body image and the body cult as a discourse feature. Traditional approaches to the study of advertising to children have examined the body stereotypes as cognitive representations, stating the influence these images have in the child audience while disregarding their sociocultural dimension, for instance, the purpose and aim of such representations. This conference paper presents an analysis of the stereotypes in advertising consumed by young children (6 to 9 years old). Based on the content analysis of 130 advertisements, we studied the gender, ethnic, age and physical constitution stereotypes present in this advertisement. The corpus analyzed corresponds to advertisements issued during the second half of 2015, in which the body schema of 382 characters was recorded. Unlike other investigations, this study identified a lower presence of gender stereotypes; in contrast, stereotypes of ethnicity and physical complexion were more relevant. The axiological analysis of the characters suggests that these stereotypes are legitimized as bodily ideals insofar as they restore the narratives present in consumer society, for example, whiteness as beauty; male domination; thinness as health, etc. In a context where audiovisual narratives are key elements in the construction of body image, it is convenient to reflect on the nature and implication of body stereotypes and intervene with pedagogical resources that help the youngest to imagine other body representations.

J. Roberto Sánchez-Reina
Universidad Pompeu Fabra


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