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Research: Plus-size models lower self-esteem

Advertisements with “plus-size” models are unlikely to positively impact their target audience, according to the findings of a new study from Arizona State University, as well as , the University of Cologne in Germany and Erasmus University in the Netherlands. Ads like Dove’s “Campaign For Real Beauty” actually lowered enthusiasm in both overweight and normal-weight consumers, according to Naomi Mandel, a marketing professor at Arizona State’s W.P. Carey School of Business. In fact, overweight consumers’ self esteem and enthusiasm for purchasing products was depleted when they saw ads with any size model.

The findings are significant to Ms. Mandel because companies like Dove and magazines that feature models of all sizes are often praised. But while the approach may be popular, it may not be effective.

Ms. Mandel conducted the study because she wanted to see if looking at skinny models had a link to consumer self esteem or even eating disorders. The professors examined respondent attitudes about their own body size before viewing the ads. They were then asked if they considered themselves similar or different to the models in the ads.

Some of the findings surprised Ms. Mandel. Although thin models did deflate most women’s self esteem, the biggest correlation wasn’t the model’s size – it was the relative difference between the consumer’s size and the model’s size. Normal-weight respondents had the most easily influenced reaction. They identified with both the thin and plus-size models, the study showed, yo-yoing between feeling confident and pondering a diet. The overweight respondents’ reactions were the same, regardless of the size of the models

“Overweight respondents didn’t like any of the models, regardless of size,” Ms. Mandel says. “They didn’t seem to like what was reflected at them.” .

Dove hasn’t responded, but Ms. Mandel says she would like to work with them for future research. The findings will be published in the April issue of the “Journal of Consumer Research.”

{Article found here}

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  • NikStar

    This is very true. A lot of women still feel like the "real" size or plus size models don't represent them. They want to see a size 24 in ads. And in reality, that doesn't happen very often.

  • Monique

    Crazy…I never thought about it. But, I guess I've always loved seeing real women in the ads.

  • NikStar

    As the larger end of plus, I get a lot of great feedback from women who are larger and want to see larger women in ads. As a model, I get into this conversation quite a bit. I love seeing women of all different shapes and sizes in ads. I think it's great! They don't have to be my size, but they understand the same struggles most times.

  • Ohmanitslisa

    You almost just have to laugh… Plus size girls have been on the down side of fashion for how long? And then the second they get their foot in the door someone has to whip out some "research" which validates pushing normal sized women out of the spotlight…

    K. Stupid.

  • Alyssa

    I have not really thought about it, i do like that dove use "real" women in their advertising. But then i do get annoyed when plus size women in magazines are a size 12 or 14. Its like they are willing to show "plus size" but only from one angle. I think everyone should be represented.

  • LivingPlusSize

    These findings really surprise me. Personally, I'm a fan of seeing plus size models, especially for clothing. I think a lot of people don't embrace their size/curves, which causes the emotions the study showed. I'm not a psychologist, but that's my opinion.

  • BBM

    all i know is i want to see more size 24 models out there!

  • BBM

    that reminds me … i remember when b&lu used voluptuous models back in the day … good times!

  • FatshionablyChubby

    I agree I want to see size 24 models hitting the runway size 12-14 is small in the plus size world…

  • Nefertiti

    ici cela fait tres longtemps que dove a mise cette pub en place mm si d ailleurs elle ne passe presque plus maintenant…

    http://letempledeladeessenilunoah.blogspot.com/