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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, 29 compared to men’s self-reported preferences, women overestimated men’s preference for thinness. Moreover, in both the thin and plus-size conditions, men’s ratings of the ideal for women was more relaxed than women’s thinner self-ideals. Although this trend seems to indicate that men are less demanding of thinness in a woman, the perceived difference in attractiveness of models in the manipulation check provides a different picture. While women saw no significant differences in attractiveness between thin and plus-size models, men rated thin models as more attractive. Attractiveness is a holistic construct tied to a variety of attributes, including facial beauty, skin tone, and sexiness, which were not controlled in our study experiment. Moreover, the relationship between thinness and attractiveness is curvilinear. Deviations of weight from the ideal norm in both directions are likely to be perceived as less attractive. Again, in our study we did not account for this curvilinear relationship. Future research should address this gap. Another consideration while interpreting our results is the profile of our study participants, who were communication students. It is possible that our participants were sensitive to issues of media and its effects. Hence, one could argue that the demand characteristics of the experiment resulted in the significant results observed for the ideal body shape. In other words, students figured out the purpose of the experiment and provided ratings to fit the underlying hypothesis – that slender models should evoke a thinner ideal and plus-size models should evoke a heavier ideal. Though it is difficult to entirely rule out demand constraints, it should be pointed out that the results of our study were obtained in a between-subjects design, in which participants in one condition did not know what participants saw in the other condition. Also, our participants were

Authors: Prabu, David., Liu, Kaiya. and Cortese, Juliann.
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Ideal Body Image, 29
compared to men’s self-reported preferences, women overestimated men’s preference for
thinness. Moreover, in both the thin and plus-size conditions, men’s ratings of the ideal
for women was more relaxed than women’s thinner self-ideals. Although this trend seems
to indicate that men are less demanding of thinness in a woman, the perceived difference
in attractiveness of models in the manipulation check provides a different picture. While
women saw no significant differences in attractiveness between thin and plus-size
models, men rated thin models as more attractive.
Attractiveness is a holistic construct tied to a variety of attributes, including facial
beauty, skin tone, and sexiness, which were not controlled in our study experiment.
Moreover, the relationship between thinness and attractiveness is curvilinear. Deviations
of weight from the ideal norm in both directions are likely to be perceived as less
attractive. Again, in our study we did not account for this curvilinear relationship. Future
research should address this gap.
Another consideration while interpreting our results is the profile of our study
participants, who were communication students. It is possible that our participants were
sensitive to issues of media and its effects. Hence, one could argue that the demand
characteristics of the experiment resulted in the significant results observed for the ideal
body shape. In other words, students figured out the purpose of the experiment and
provided ratings to fit the underlying hypothesis – that slender models should evoke a
thinner ideal and plus-size models should evoke a heavier ideal. Though it is difficult to
entirely rule out demand constraints, it should be pointed out that the results of our study
were obtained in a between-subjects design, in which participants in one condition did
not know what participants saw in the other condition. Also, our participants were


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