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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, 28 however, that assessment of social norms in Experiment 1 were contaminated by media exposure General Discussion and Conclusions In two studies we have demonstrated that exposure to fashion models can significantly alter perceptions of ideal and actual body image. While the effect on women has been demonstrated in the past, the contribution from these studies is the extension of this effect to men. Men and women were equally influenced in the two experiments, and exposure to plus-size models, in comparison to thin models, led to visual estimations of a heavier ideal shape. Body shapes of the plus-size models, however, were found to be representative of the average women, which is a positive finding because it suggests that perceptions of the ideal can be altered at least temporarily when idealized norms of thinness are relaxed in media portrayals. An important question for future work is the extent to which this effect would persist over time. Is the perceptual alteration of the ideal a short-term effect, or can this shift be sustained over the long run? Stice, Spangler, and Argas (2001) get at this question by examining long-term exposure to idealized images. They found that long-term exposure to idealized images adversely affected women who were vulnerable to body dissatisfaction. Perhaps, a similar longitudinal framework could be employed to examine whether long-term exposure to average body shape images increases body satisfaction, or at least decreases body dissatisfaction. In addition to the main effect for exposure to plus-size models, some interesting gender differences were observed in terms of how men and women perceived social norms of thinness. When women’s estimations of men’s preference for thinness were

Authors: Prabu, David., Liu, Kaiya. and Cortese, Juliann.
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background image
Ideal Body Image, 28
however, that assessment of social norms in Experiment 1 were contaminated by media
exposure
General Discussion and Conclusions
In two studies we have demonstrated that exposure to fashion models can
significantly alter perceptions of ideal and actual body image. While the effect on women
has been demonstrated in the past, the contribution from these studies is the extension of
this effect to men. Men and women were equally influenced in the two experiments, and
exposure to plus-size models, in comparison to thin models, led to visual estimations of a
heavier ideal shape. Body shapes of the plus-size models, however, were found to be
representative of the average women, which is a positive finding because it suggests that
perceptions of the ideal can be altered at least temporarily when idealized norms of
thinness are relaxed in media portrayals. An important question for future work is the
extent to which this effect would persist over time. Is the perceptual alteration of the ideal
a short-term effect, or can this shift be sustained over the long run?
Stice, Spangler, and Argas (2001) get at this question by examining long-term
exposure to idealized images. They found that long-term exposure to idealized images
adversely affected women who were vulnerable to body dissatisfaction. Perhaps, a
similar longitudinal framework could be employed to examine whether long-term
exposure to average body shape images increases body satisfaction, or at least decreases
body dissatisfaction.
In addition to the main effect for exposure to plus-size models, some interesting
gender differences were observed in terms of how men and women perceived social
norms of thinness. When women’s estimations of men’s preference for thinness were


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