The study involved surveying 81 college women and asking them to rate their opinion about their own appearance. The questions ranged from asking their opinions on their facial features to their chest size.
After rating themselves, some of the women were asked to look at magazine ads containing fashion models. The other women were asked to look at ads without women. The women were then surveyed again and those that saw the ads with the fashion models reported a lower body image.
The survey also found that even attractive women experienced a negative self body image after viewing the fashion models. This effectively dispelled the myth that larger sized women or those struggling with eating disorders are the only ones negatively impacted by images of fashion models.
“Most women know intuitively or subconsciously that when they look at magazines they’ll feel badly about themselves.” – Laurie Mintz, associate professor of education, school and counseling psychology in the MU College of EducationThe researchers involved with this study believe that even attractive women take a blow to self-esteem when seeing these ads because they are afraid of losing their attractive qualities. They also believe women still continue to look at these magazines and ads simply because they are looking for a way to be as beautiful as the women they see in the magazines. Even though women know these images are not realistic, they still hope to achieve this same unrealistic standard of beauty.
It is for this very reason that many marketing campaigns focus on making women feel as if they can avoid weight gain, signs of aging, and other “unattractive” qualities by purchasing and using their products. In essence, the ads strive to make women feel bad about themselves in an effort to get them to purchase their products.