Do Plus-Size Models Promote Obesity?
There has been a long-standing debate on how super-thin supermodels negatively affect women’s and girls’ self-image – and a backlash trend to promote plus-size models in ads.
But is that a good thing?
At least one new study concludes that maybe it isn’t. The research, published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, actually suggests that overweight models in ads may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.
The study authors at California State University and Simon Fraser University coined the phrase “The (Ironic) Dove Effect,” a reference to Dove’s #RealBeauty ad campaign, which aimed to undercut the conventional idea of beauty by showing women of all shapes and sizes in their underwear. The researchers wrote that when heavier women are used in certain campaigns, it becomes “socially permissible, and individuals exhibit lower motivation to engage in healthy behaviors and consume greater portions of unhealthy food.”
In one study, women were asked to imagine walking past a women’s clothing store while holding two photos – one of a thin-bodied mannequin and the other of a larger one – and then rate statements, such as “I feel obese” or “Overweight is normal,” on a scale of 1 to 7 (strongly disagree to strongly agree). Results showed women who were shown the larger mannequins felt that being obese or overweight was more socially acceptable.
In another study, women were given a cup of seven chocolates and shown three photos of plus-size women, each with their own caption — “for normal women,” “for plus-size women,” and “for women.” The researchers found those who were shown the photo that said “For normal women” ate the most chocolate.
Obesity affects more than a third of Americans, increasing their risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, several cancers, and a premature death.
Don’t miss this week’s Slice of History--the first “drunkometer.”