The recent explosion of normal-sized women in fashion campaigns and magazines spreads is not only reassuring for those of us who don’t look like pre-pubescent boys but apparently, is having a positive effect on all kinds of women.
According to a new study from Florida State University, simply seeing plus-size models can boost women’s psychological health.
The study recruited 49 university-aged women – all of whom said that they wanted to be thinner.
They were shown various images of thin, average and plus-size fashion models on a screen before being asked to answer questions about their own body satisfaction.
‘By measuring psychophysiological responses during image exposure, we were able to gain insights into the real-time cognitive and emotional responses that unfold when women are exposed to different-size media fashion models,’ said lead author Dr Russell Clayton, assistant professor in the Florida State Universtiy School of Communication.
And it turned out that the women were more likely to notice and remember average and plus-size models in the media, compared to thin ones.
When the thin models were on the screen, the women made more comparisons between themselves and the models while at the same time paying less attention and remembering less about the models.
And, as one might expect, the participants came away with lower body satisfaction and poorer psychological health.
However, when the average and plus-sized models were on the screen, participants made fewer comparisons but paid far more attention to the models and reported feeling better about their own bodies.
‘We found overwhelmingly that there is a clear psychological advantage when the media shows more realistic body types than the traditional thin model,’ said Dr Clayton.
‘Women made fewer social comparisons, felt increased body satisfaction, paid more attention to and remembered average and plus-size models.’
He went on to suggest that not only might using more normal-shaped models be more healthy in terms of promoting better female mental health, but it might also be a useful marketing tactic.
‘Therefore, it might be a useful persuasive strategy for media producers to employ plus-size models if the goal of the campaign is to capture attention while also promoting body positivity.’
Win win all round.