Nonplussed: Study Says Even Full-figured Models Damage Self-esteem

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Big girls not a big help. Photo: Glamour Magazine

Damned if you do … According to a new study conducted by a team of researchers from the U.S., Germany, and the Netherlands and published in the Journal of Consumer Research, magazine photos of models, be they magically emaciated or plus-size, make overweight women feel worse about their bodies and, conversely, "underweight" women feel better about themselves. So unfair, right? A serious blow to the growing interest in "plus-size" or "full-figure" spreads, the study suggests that redefining standards of shape across the editorial and commercial side of print fashion won't be some sort of panacea for the already fragmented self-esteem of women who fall outside of our modern understanding of beauty. "Overweight women's self-esteem always decreases, regardless of the model they look at," says the study, implying that it's not the particular image someone looks at that's damaging, but rather the presentation of beauty, in any form, that troubles many readers. Anna North over at Jezebel breaks it down for us: "The fact is, images whose purpose is to sell women shit — whether those images look more or less like them — are probably never going to be on the forefront of social change. Including plus-size women in ads and fashion spreads is an important step not just for social good, but for aesthetic value — magazines would be more interesting if they contained a greater diversity of models." The takeaway? Crystal Renn and all the size 12 sweethearts in the world aren't going to make you feel any better if you don't already maintain a healthy distance between the fun and fantasy of fashion imagery and the real, live girl you see in the mirror.

Women's Self-Esteem Affected By Magazines [UPI]