TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Rail-thin models move over. Plus-size women are not only becoming more commonplace as models for top fashion brands, but a new study finds that they also generate psychological and physiological benefits for female consumers.
For their study, researchers at Florida State University recruited 49 college-aged women who expressed a desire to shed some pounds.
Each participant was presented with a number of images depicting thin, average, and plus-size models, as the researchers measured their psychophysiological responses— i.e., the interaction between their body and mind.
Participants’ reactions were recorded through a survey taken after viewing the images.
As a whole, viewing images of thin models resulted in participants making more comparisons between themselves and the model, while paying less attention to and remembering less about the model.
In addition, participants reported a lowered level of body satisfaction when they viewed slender models, a marker of lessened psychological health.
Meanwhile, the inverse was true when female participants viewed images of average and plus-size models: comparisons decreased, while attention and memory as it pertained to the models increased.
“We found overwhelmingly that there is a clear psychological advantage when the media shows more realistic body types than the traditional thin model,” concludes co-author Jessica Ridgway in a university press release.
“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,” adds co-author Russell Clayton.
Considering recent studies that have found that up to 94 percent of models are drastically underweight and 62 percent have been asked to lose weight, perhaps this study can help turn the tide on the ideal weight for models.
The study’s findings were published in the journal Communication Monographs.