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Plus Size Models Aren't As Good as Skinny Ones, For Any of Us

Plus Size Models Aren't as Good as Skinny Ones, For Any of Us

Here's a post from OnSugar blog Life Forward.

Despite the general self-congratulations of Dove, Glamour, et. al. for using Plus Size models, turns out, seeing them in advertisements just makes women feel worse.  A University of Arizona study found that larger women preferred ads without any models, average sized women felt less bad about themselves (yes, that's what we're aiming for — less bad) with ads with skinny models, and skinny women preferred ads with skinny women.

I'm not shocked about the skinny women — It's hard to imagine a size 2 woman looking at an ad with a size 18 and wanting to look like her — and therefore be moved to purchase that product.  Our society has elevated the size  2 to a much higher place than the size 18, so there's nothing aspirational about the size 18 to the size 2.  Same goes for the average size woman — who, again, let's note, doesn't feel good about herself either way, just "less bad." These women would see a thinner model, think she looked like her and feel good, and if they saw a heavier model, worry that they were the same — and feel bad.

Good news though, using heavier models, which makes women feel bad about their own size/weight/etc. can be a useful tool in selling diet and weight loss products.


Anyone else disgusted by our own mind games?

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Join The Conversation
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
For the most part, probably. Let's face it, large models aren't often used outside of plus-sized clothing stores and diet products, which isn't something that I relate to. So in the current environment, where the people that I relate to are selling the products that I buy, and the people that I don't relate to are selling products that don't apply to me, then yes, it does cause disinterest. That said, I imagine that if a large model started being used to promote, say, a body lotion, it wouldn't have as much appeal. Maybe that makes me shallow, but fitness is something that I'm very attracted to.
Pistil Pistil 7 years
It is a mind game. Isn't the point of advertising to make you feel like you're lacking something? So you'll go out and buy whatever product it is they're selling to feel better about your life. Your meager existence is only complete with the perfect bra/blush/deodorant/car/pantyliner/cereal. The model is skinnier than you? Looks better than you? Then you need what she's selling. The model looks average? Average like you? Then you need what she's selling. Isn't using heavier models just another advertising tactic? A company like Dove seems to be moving in a positive direction when they use models of a variety of shapes, sizes, colours, and ages, but Dove is still in the business of beauty products and making money. What do I think about models in ads... For clothing, I don't mind seeing thin models. It makes me feel better to see my body type being showcased, and I might want to consider the product. If I see a plus sized model, I generally disregard the ad as not being directed towards me. If the model is busty, I think about my own lack of boobs, haha, but I always remember that the model doesn't have the same build as me, or she could be wearing three push-up bras, or photoshopped, and I go about the rest of my day.
ShaynaLeah ShaynaLeah 7 years
So if you don't relate to the plus size models, then do you have less interest in the advertisement/product/story? If the plus size model is using that cream/clothing/etc., and you don't relate to her, then do you have less interest in the product than if there was a thin model using/wearing it?
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
@ShaynaLeah - as to your second question, no, it doesn't make me think about my own body. I've never been overweight, so I don't equate plus-sized with my own size at all.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 7 years
I like to see plus sized models. Or even models who are my size (but then again, in the world of magazines being a size 10 is horribly obese), it's nice to know that they're trying to reach a larger audience. I don't think it's mind games at all.
ShaynaLeah ShaynaLeah 7 years
Sorry if the question wasn't specific enough - does seeing a heavy woman as the before picture in an advertisement, make you think about your own body? Your weight or hips or thighs? Do you think you might look like her? Do you feel annoyed/angry/otherwise negative about your body as a result?
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
As for the question on models on weight loss products, I can't imagine wanting to purchase some if the model was overweight. It's sort of like a chubby yoga instructor/personal trainer, or a hairstylist with a bad dye job. It just doesn't make sense to me, unless it's a Before picture. But then, I think most weight loss products are a crock, so I've never considered purchasing them anyway.
ShaynaLeah ShaynaLeah 7 years
Chareth - I agree that the models are typically aspirational - after all, most advertising is aspirational in nature. But does the aspirational nature of advertising leave you feeling lacking, or is it only when the model in the photo is skinnier than you that you feel lacking, or when the model is heavier, do you no longer find her an aspirational model?
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
This article is lost on me. These days, isn't "average" overweight?? Generally, I look at ads as art. Also, I think beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities.
mlen mlen 7 years
i prefer thinner models. not not sickly or scary skinny. i'm a thin girl myself but i don't want to see bones and toothpick legs. i prefer the supermodel bodies- the actual supermodels of the 90s or so- think cindy crawford, nikki taylor, or gisele today. those women are probably only a size 2 or 4 but they looked healthy and good in clothing. lets face it- most runway models aren't a 2, they are like a double 00. that is how size 4 beauties like lara stone end up thinking they are fat.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
I, too, like seeing beautiful women in magazines. They inspire me. I'm like a little-league coach watching MLB: I may not be big time, but I'm still part of the game. Modern fashion is art, and true art stirs up emotion. Whether you let that emotion be self-hatred or self-admiration, is really up to you.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
I agree that skinny women are not the enemy, they're just another part of the tapestry. It's the industry that's the enemy and it's the industry's reflection of society that women in general need to change if not for them than for their daughters.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
IMO it's called transition. We're not going to come off of decades of being programed that skinny is (it) and all of a sudden say oh okay I feel better now. For lack of a better phrase we mind *ucked our selves into thinking one way for a very long time and now we need to allow our selves time to let reality sink in. To stop using plus size models would be foolish. It's also a generational issue women who grew up seeing that skinny was (it) feel bad and young women who grow up seeing that skinny is just one of many acceptable and beautiful sizes IMO will not feel so bad. Give it time and don't be so quick to change course.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
ShaynaLeah - I would argue that the woman who say mean things about thin models are the same ones who feel bad about themselves. I don't feel better or worse about myself when I look at thin models. Looking at women who are larger than me frequently makes me feel sad for them (if they look overweight to the point of being unhealthy), but it doesn't make me feel any better about myself - that would just be wrong. As for weight loss products, I have to say, I've never really paid attention to them so I don't know what type of person I would prefer to see.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 7 years
heavy *woman
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 7 years
ShaynaLeah's question -- "does seeing a heavy woman in an advertisement for weight loss products make you more interested in weight loss than seeing a thinner woman?" If I see a heavy women in an advertisement for a weight loss product, I think "that must not work"
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
I'm with SKG and Chloe Bella. I would rather see someone who is beautiful and fit than someone who looks like an average woman walking down the street. It certainly doesn't make me feel bad about myself. I'm not going to then look at myself and say "oh, well I'm not 6' tall and a size 0, I must be unworthy." They're models - they're supposed to be aspirational, not the same as everyone else.
ShaynaLeah ShaynaLeah 7 years
Here's a question then ladies, does seeing a heavy woman in an advertisement for weight loss products make you more interested in weight loss than seeing a thinner woman (relative to your own size)?
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