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Looking at Models Can Be Harmful

Por Carola Sixto, Editor DrTango, Inc. -

Women’s self-esteem may be hurt

Sitting in front of the TV to watch a fashion show or a program with models can arise many different emotions in the spectators. Far from feeling the desire of buying the exhibited clothing, contemplating these models can directly affect women’s self-esteem.

If the woman is overweight, her self-esteem will decrease, despite how the model looks like. And this is one of the most amazing findings: if the model is thin, overweight women feel bad because of the difference between their body shapes. But if the model they see, whether at a TV show or magazine, is chubby like them, they also feel bad, because they know they look alike. This was shown in a study led by Dirk Smeesters, from Erasmus University in the Netherlands, Thomas Mussweiler, from the University of Cologne, Germany, and Naomi Mandel from Arizona State University, who gathered to analyze the response of individuals with different body mass indexes when exposed to different models (thin or chubby).

Thin Women are Also at Risk
Not only overweight women experience an increase or decrease in their self-esteem when they see fashion models. Researchers found that women of “normal” weight (BMI between 18.5 and 25) have an increased self-esteem when:
• they see moderately thin models: because they feel alike.
• they see extremely obese models: because they feel very different.

These same women have a decreased self-esteem when:
• models are moderately chubby: because they feel alike.
• they watch extremely thin models: because they feel different.

This study shows that not only women with overweight feel bad about themselves when they see models; women who are thin also experience changes in their self-esteem.

Even when you know that a lot of models have had to deal with serious health problems such as anorexia and bulimia, while others continue to face different addictions, modern society continues to perceive models as “perfect women,” with extremely thin bodies and sizes that seem to be created just for them.

According to the Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center in Texas, “people with low self-esteem generally depend on what they are doing at the time to determine how they feel about themselves. They need positive external experiences to counteract the negative feelings and thoughts that continually mortify them. Still, when they finally feel good, it may be temporary.”

That is why psychologists insist to remind people with low self-esteem that they are much more than a body or appearance. People are valued for their personality, honesty, enthusiasm, the way of doing things, expressing affection to loved ones, and many other things besides their physical appearance.

However, the recommendation of the investigators of this study is that “overweight women should try to avoid ads with any kind of model, slim or chubby (perhaps even avoid women’s magazines).”

It sounds like quite a special recommendation, but maybe we should give it a try!

Source: University of Chicago Press Journals (2009, October 20). How Does Media Exposure Affect Self-esteem In Overweight And Underweight Women?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 6, 2010, from¬ /releases/2009/10/091013162758.htm


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