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Effect of Thin vs. Plus-Size Models: A Comparison of Body Image Ideals by Gender
Unformatted Document Text:  Ideal Body Image, 11 H3: Among men, exposure to thin fashion models will evoke a thinner female ideal, whereas exposure to plus models will evoke a heavier ideal. In another strand of research, the relation between race and body image has been examined (Botta, 2000; David, Morrison, Johnson, & Ross, 2002). In general, these findings suggest that despite being more satisfied with their bodies than whites, blacks are not immune to the pressures of the thin ideal. Because of the small number of black participants, body image effects by race were not pursued in this study. Using a pre-post design, Myers and Biocca (1992) measured actual body shape by providing participants with simple controls to adjust projections of shadows from an overhead projector. These silhouettes projected on a screen were measured with calipers. Exposure to ideal-body television programming was found to lead to a shift between the pre- and post-measures. However, their finding of elasticity was in the opposite direction compared to a contrasting finding by Lavine, Sweeney, and Wagner (1999). In the Myers and Biocca study, exposure to the thin ideal led to a lowering of the actual body size and to a decrease in depression. Typically, exposure to the thin ideal leads to social comparisons, which leads to body dissatisfaction, depression-related emotions, and an exaggerated self-image that is heavier than actual. Though innovative in approach, the findings from the Myers and Biocca (1992) study contradict an overwhelming body of evidence. Small sample size, characteristics of the participants – members of a sorority – and perhaps the variance in the body projection scale could explain these discrepant results. Our primary goal was to replicate the elastic body image effect with a different visual estimation task developed by Stunkard, Sorenson, and Schulsinger (1983).

Authors: Prabu, David., Liu, Kaiya. and Cortese, Juliann.
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background image
Ideal Body Image, 11
H3: Among men, exposure to thin fashion models will evoke a thinner female
ideal, whereas exposure to plus models will evoke a heavier ideal.
In another strand of research, the relation between race and body image has been
examined (Botta, 2000; David, Morrison, Johnson, & Ross, 2002). In general, these
findings suggest that despite being more satisfied with their bodies than whites, blacks
are not immune to the pressures of the thin ideal. Because of the small number of black
participants, body image effects by race were not pursued in this study.
Using a pre-post design, Myers and Biocca (1992) measured actual body shape by
providing participants with simple controls to adjust projections of shadows from an
overhead projector. These silhouettes projected on a screen were measured with calipers.
Exposure to ideal-body television programming was found to lead to a shift between the
pre- and post-measures. However, their finding of elasticity was in the opposite direction
compared to a contrasting finding by Lavine, Sweeney, and Wagner (1999). In the Myers
and Biocca study, exposure to the thin ideal led to a lowering of the actual body size and
to a decrease in depression. Typically, exposure to the thin ideal leads to social
comparisons, which leads to body dissatisfaction, depression-related emotions, and an
exaggerated self-image that is heavier than actual. Though innovative in approach, the
findings from the Myers and Biocca (1992) study contradict an overwhelming body of
evidence. Small sample size, characteristics of the participants – members of a sorority –
and perhaps the variance in the body projection scale could explain these discrepant
results. Our primary goal was to replicate the elastic body image effect with a different
visual estimation task developed by Stunkard, Sorenson, and Schulsinger (1983).


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