Plus Sized Models Could Combat Eating Disorders
Unrealistic body images among British women could be changed if advertising included more plus sized models according to a preliminary study.
Durham University scientists have found that using women in advertising who are more representative of the population seems to help women and girls develop healthier relationships with food.
Their study focused on 100 women that all preferred thin body shapes. These women were then shown advertising which featured plus sized models. This resulted in the women preferring the body types of the plus sized models rather than skinny models. When the women were then shown pictures of thin models again, they shifted their preferences back to a thinner body shape.
The researchers found they could also change women’s preferences simply by showing them pictures of ordinary women who were either thin or more curvaceous.
Lead author Dr Lynda Boothroyd, from Durham University's Department of Psychology, said, "This really gives us some food for thought about the power of exposure to super-slim bodies. There is evidence that being constantly surrounded through the media by celebrities and models who are very thin contributes to girls and women having an unhealthy attitude to their bodies.
"Although we don't yet know whether brief exposure to pictures of larger women will change women's attitudes in the long term, our findings certainly indicate that showing more 'normal' models could potentially reduce women's obsession for thinness."
Another crucial finding was linked to how aspirational a photo was. The scientists found that given a choice, women preferred aspirational plus sized model photos over photos of plainly dressed underweight women. This shows women may be more attracted to women of any size as long as they look glamorous or have an aspirational quality to them.Continued on the next page