Skinny? You aren’t really the best model

November 20th, 2008 - 11:14 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Nov 20 (IANS) Many in the the fashion industry think that only skinny models sell but their average sized counterparts may just be as alluring and effective in fashion ads. Queensland University (QU) doctoral candidate Phillippa Diedrichs is exploring the potential of using more realistic models in place of ultra thin or ultra muscular images in the mass media to sell products, and what impact this will have on promoting positive body image.

There is a well established link between exposure to ultra-thin models and poor body image in the media, disordered eating and exercising behaviours for both men and women.

Diedrichs created a series of mock ads for a range of beauty, clothing and accessory products where more than 300 men and women, aged between 18 and 25, viewed themes which featured either size 8-10 or 14 female models.

“They rated how likely they would be to buy the products in the advertisements and how they felt about their own body image after seeing the ads,” she said.

“Both men and women rated the advertisements featuring the average-size models as equally effective as the advertisements featuring the thinner models.”

“Also, women who saw the size 14 models felt significantly better about their own bodies in comparison to those who saw the thinner models,” she said.

Diedrichs said her research offered exciting implications that could be made to promote positive body image, according to a QU release.

“It is often argued that only thin models will sell. However, my research indicates that average-size models may be just as effective in advertisements and that many consumers actually want to see more realistic models,” she said.

“My research provides an evidence-base for this, by demonstrating that presenting more average-sized models in the media has the potential to improve body image.

“I’ll be interviewing magazine editors and people from the fashion and advertising industries to find out what they think about average-size models and to tell them about my research in an effort to encourage change in the media,” she said.

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