Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 15 Issue 5 (September/October 2005), Pages 319-423

The impact of advertisements featuring ultra‐thin or average‐size models on women with a history of eating disorders (pages 406-413)


Previous research demonstrates that exposure to ultra‐thin media models leads to increased body image concerns amongst women (Groesz, Levine, & Murnen, 2002). There is emerging evidence that attractive, average‐size models do not have this negative effect and can be effective in advertising (e.g. Halliwell & Dittmar, 2004). The present study investigates these factors amongst women with a history of eating disorders. Participants either viewed advertisements featuring ultra‐thin, average‐size or control images. Immediately after exposure, they reported their body‐focused anxiety and rated the effectiveness of the advertisements. Whereas exposure to ultra‐thin models did not lead to increased body‐focused anxiety, exposure to average‐size models produced a relief effect, whereby women reported lower levels of body‐focused anxiety. Advertisements featuring ultra‐thin and average‐size models were equally effective. The results suggest that average‐size, attractive models could be used effectively in advertising, which may help to relieve body image concerns amongst these women. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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