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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, 3 Effect of Thin vs. Plus-Size Models: A Comparison of Body Image Ideals by Gender Idealized female beauty and thinness is the norm in our media environment. A cursory analysis is sufficient to conclude that most of the models portrayed in the media are attractive and, in general, thinner than the average American woman. Moreover, researchers (Silverstein, Perdue, Peterson, & Kelly, 1986) have found that fashion models have become increasingly thinner in the last few decades. Advertisers hope that the attractiveness, sex appeal and thinness of these models would translate into a positive attitude toward products endorsed by them. Researchers from various disciplines, however, are concerned that repeated exposure to the idealized female form could distort our perceptions of acceptable norms of thinness and attractiveness (for a review, see Thompson & Heinberg, 1999). From a growing body of research, there is ample evidence that exposure to the thin media ideal has a significant effect on various outcomes including body image distortion (Lavine, Sweeney, & Wagner, 1999; Myers & Biocca, 1992) body dissatisfaction (Botta, 1999; Hargreaves & Tiggemann, 2001; Heinberg & Thompson, 1995; Stice & Shaw, 1994), body esteem (Posavac, Posavac, & Posavac, 1998), mood (Hargreaves & Tiggemann, 2002) and eating disorder symptoms (Harrison & Cantor, 1997; Stice & Shaw, 1994). Summarizing the findings from 25 studies, in a recent meta- analysis, Goresz, Levine and Murnen (2001) report that thin models presented in an experimental setting elicit more body dissatisfaction than heavier models, and vulnerable women are influenced more by the thin media portrayals than others. These findings from laboratory experiments are corroborated by survey research findings that show significant

Authors: Prabu, David., Liu, Kaiya. and Cortese, Juliann.
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Ideal Body Image, 3
Effect of Thin vs. Plus-Size Models: A Comparison of Body Image Ideals by Gender
Idealized female beauty and thinness is the norm in our media environment. A
cursory analysis is sufficient to conclude that most of the models portrayed in the media
are attractive and, in general, thinner than the average American woman. Moreover,
researchers (Silverstein, Perdue, Peterson, & Kelly, 1986) have found that fashion models
have become increasingly thinner in the last few decades. Advertisers hope that the
attractiveness, sex appeal and thinness of these models would translate into a positive
attitude toward products endorsed by them. Researchers from various disciplines,
however, are concerned that repeated exposure to the idealized female form could distort
our perceptions of acceptable norms of thinness and attractiveness (for a review, see
Thompson & Heinberg, 1999).
From a growing body of research, there is ample evidence that exposure to the
thin media ideal has a significant effect on various outcomes including body image
distortion (Lavine, Sweeney, & Wagner, 1999; Myers & Biocca, 1992) body
dissatisfaction (Botta, 1999; Hargreaves & Tiggemann, 2001; Heinberg & Thompson,
1995; Stice & Shaw, 1994), body esteem (Posavac, Posavac, & Posavac, 1998), mood
(Hargreaves & Tiggemann, 2002) and eating disorder symptoms (Harrison & Cantor,
1997; Stice & Shaw, 1994). Summarizing the findings from 25 studies, in a recent meta-
analysis, Goresz, Levine and Murnen (2001) report that thin models presented in an
experimental setting elicit more body dissatisfaction than heavier models, and vulnerable
women are influenced more by the thin media portrayals than others. These findings from
laboratory experiments are corroborated by survey research findings that show significant


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