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8 November 2012, 05:45
A study by experts at Durham Uni's found new evidence that more plus size models could change women's obsession with thin bodies.
British women's obsession for thin bodies could potentially be changed if advertising showed more plus size models, according to new research.
The Durham Uni researchers, who studied over 100 women, provide evidence to back calls for models in adverts to be more representative of the actual population.
Researchers say this could ultimately help girls and women to develop a healthier attitude to eating.
In the preliminary study, women who usually strongly preferred thin body shapes were significantly less keen on thin bodies after they had been shown pictures of plus size catalogue models.
Showing slim models increased women's preference for thin bodies.
The effects could be found whether the women were shown catalogue models or ordinary women of either size.
The findings provide research data for policy-makers and support for on-going calls from Government and health charities to 'normalise' female models in the media.
The research is published in the leading international academic journal, PLOS ONE, and was led by Durham University with colleagues from Newcastle University and the VU University Amsterdam.
Lead author Dr Lynda Boothroyd, from Durham University's Department of Psychology, said:
"This really gives us some food for thought about the power of exposure to super-slim bodies.
There is evidence that being constantly surrounded through the media by celebrities and models who are very thin contributes to girls and women having an unhealthy attitude to their bodies.
Although we don't yet know whether brief exposure to pictures of larger women will change women's attitudes in the long term, our findings certainly indicate that showing more 'normal' models could potentially reduce women's obsession for thinness."
Susan Ringwood, Chief Executive from the leading UK eating disorders charity, Beat, commented:
"This study points towards an important aspect of our modern lives.
We see an average of 2,000 images a day in advertising alone, and most of these include bodies that are more slender than average.
Increasing the diversity of body shapes and sizes portrayed in the media could rebalance our views about our own bodies in an emotionally healthy way."