If you thought that only women on the heavier side felt bad about their
bodies after being bombarded
with images of stick thin models, well then you better
think again, for the affliction is common to all members of the fairer
And, it doesn't take a week or a month or even a year for those
negative feelings to set in, but only three minutes, a new University of
Missouri-Columbia study has found.
"Surprisingly, we found that weight was not a factor. Viewing these
pictures was just bad for everyone," said Laurie Mintz, associate
professor in the MU College of Education.
"It had been thought that women who are heavier feel worse than a
thinner woman after viewing pictures of the thin ideal in the mass media.
The study results do not support that theory."
As a part of the study the researchers measured how 81 women felt about
themselves, from their body weight to their hair, and then exposed some of
them to neutral images, while others viewed models in magazine ads for one
to three minutes.
The women were asked to evaluate themselves after seeing the images,
and in all cases, the women who viewed the models reported a drop in their
level of satisfaction with their own bodies.
The study suggests that the majority of women would benefit from social
interventions aimed at decreasing the effects of the media.
The researchers now state that unlike past interventions that have
targeted specific groups of women, such as those with pre-existing eating
and body-image concerns, this study suggests that reducing the acceptance
of mass media model images and trying to stop the social comparison
process is important for helping all women.
"Most women do not go to a counselor for advice; they look to Seventeen
or Glamor magazine instead. These unrealistic images of women, who are
often airbrushed or partially computer generated, have a detrimental
impact on women and how they feel about themselves," Mintz said.