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Professional hazards? The impact of model’s body size on advertising effectiveness and women’s body-focused anxiety in professions that do and do not emphasize the cultural ideal of thinness
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 18:08 authored by Helga Dittmar, Sarah Howard
Previous experimental research indicates that the use of average-size women models in advertising prevents the well-documented negative effect of thin models on women's body image, while such adverts are perceived as equally effective (Halliwell & Dittmar, 2004). The current study extends this work by: (a) seeking to replicate the finding of no difference in advertising effectiveness between average-size and thin models (b) examining level of ideal-body internalization as an individual, internal factor that moderates women's vulnerability to thin media models, in the context of (c) comparing women in professions that differ radically in their focus on, and promotion of, the sociocultural ideal of thinness for women-employees in fashion advertising (n=75) and teachers in secondary schools (n=75). Adverts showing thin, average-size and no models were perceived as equally effective. High internalizers in both groups of women felt worse about their body image after exposure to thin models compared to other images. Profession affected responses to average-size models. Teachers reported significantly less body-focused anxiety after seeing average-size models compared to no models, while there was no difference for fashion advertisers. This suggests that women in professional environments with less focus on appearance-related ideals can experience increased body-esteem when exposed to average-size models, whereas women in appearance-focused professions report no such relief.
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Department affiliated with
- Psychology Publications
NotesFirst author. Howard was Dittmar's student.
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