Phoenix, AZ, United States (AHN) – Ads with plus-size models are unlikely to have a good impact on women, it has been learned. A new study has revealed that the effect of such ads can be damaging to a woman’s self-esteem just as ads featuring extremely thin models can.
According to the study – conducted by researchers at Arizona State University, the University of Cologne in Germany, and Erasmus University in the Netherlands – brands that use heavy models in their ads are doubtful to gain market share.
That is because although women’s self-esteem can take a hit when they look at size 0 models in ads, it is also not that safe when they look at heavier models.
Naomi Mandel, marketing associate professor at ASU said, “We believe it is unlikely that many brands will gain market share by using heavy models in their ads. We found that overweight consumers demonstrated lower self-esteem – and therefore probably less enthusiasm about buying products – after exposure to any size models in ads (versus ads with no models).”
“Also, normal-weight consumers experienced lower self-esteem after exposure to moderately heavy models, such as those in Dove soap’s ‘Real Women’ campaign, than after exposure to moderately thin models.”
The experiment called for hundreds of female students having low, normal, and high body mass index (BMI). It was concluded that higher BMI, heavier women dropped in self-esteem when looking at all models because they feel different from those thin models and similar to overweight ones.
Thinner girls with low BMI experienced a boost in their self-esteem when they viewed all models because they identify with the thin models and saw themselves different from the heavier ones.
Normal BMI girls’ self-esteem shift depending on what type of images they saw. If they viewed a moderately thin model, they felt they were similar; thus, they feel good. But when they saw a moderately heavy model, they got worried that they were similar and overweight.
The findings can prompt changes in behavior. If a normal-sized woman sees moderately heavy images in weight-loss products’ ads, she might identify with them, feel overweight, and be more inclined to get gym membership or buy a diet plan.