Review Blog

Dec 13 2010

Does my bum look big in this ad? by Lisa Cox

cover image

Sub-title: Body image in the media. Wombat Books, 2010. ISBN 9781921633058.
(Age 11+) Teenagers and pre-teens know the power of peer group pressure but how many are aware of the dangers posed by images designed to sell popular culture?
Lisa Cox can write with authority about self-image. She worked as a fashion model and then moved to the advertising industry. After explaining the importance of a positive body image, she provides a 'behind the scenes' look at the motives and methods of marketing. Her aims are to expose photographic techniques used to enhance physical appearance, analyse the psychology of selling and offer simple but powerful remedies for the insecurities induced by unrealistic role models.  
The author's approach has considerable strength. After a brief Foreword for parents and educators, the bulk of the text is directed squarely at a young audience. Lisa Cox speaks to young people not about them. Her subject is complex but accessible because the information is well organised. Each chapter deals with a particular aspect of the issue and has been divided into topics, which are discussed briefly and persuasively under headings. The language is frank, unadorned and completely lacking in condescension. Critical issues such as eating orders, depression and plastic surgery are presented in a matter-of-fact manner along with crisply worded, practical advice.
The inclusion of pages on which readers are invited to do 'Homework', suggests that the book has been designed to be bought rather than borrowed from a library. Its dimensions, similar to those of a CD case, could make it difficult to manage in a collection. Although the author makes it clear that her message is for boys as well as girls, most of the illustrations relate to young women. The small font size may discourage some readers.
Lisa Cox has made a valuable contribution to the debate about a vitally important aspect of adolescent well-being. 'Does my bum look good in this ad? Who cares!!!'
Elizabeth Bor

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