Why women buy magazines that promote impossible body images

Posted on November 7, 2014

The research suggests that some readers, rather than comparing themselves unhappily with the thin models, may derive “thinspiration”: the belief that they can make themselves look just as attractive as the models they see in these magazines. But this is not any kind of positive inspiration, said Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, author of the study and professor of communication at The Ohio State University.

Women get the message that they can look just like the models they see in the magazines, which is not helpful. It makes them feel better at first, but in the long run women are buying into these thinness fantasies that just won’t come true.

The study found that women who felt greater “thinspiration” by viewing images of thin models were actually less likely to engage in weight-loss behaviors. They felt better about their body instantly when viewing the images and related content. They weren’t thinking about what they had to do to look like these models.

Social comparison for self-evaluation makes these women less happy with how they look and more likely to want to diet, they look at the models in the magazines and think, ‘this person is so much thinner than I am; I should skip a meal. But women who used the self-improvement social comparison actually saw increases in body satisfaction. These women felt better about their own bodies because they imagined that they could look just like the models they saw in the magazines.

Knobloch-Westerwick said women, at a surface level, may read these magazines simply as entertainment. But they should realize how the magazines are affecting them. Women might be able to fight off the harmful media impacts on their body satisfaction if they understand how these messages are designed to make them fall for unrealistic and even unhealthy body ideals.

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Source material from Psy Post


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