How the Use of Thin Models in Advertisements Impacts Self-Esteem and Body Image Perception Among Young Women
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The purpose of this paper is to explore how advertising images using thin models impact college age women's self-esteem and body image perception. This is done through the use of two survey forms, one containing advertisements with thin models and another containing advertisements with average and overweight models. Each survey is followed by a variation of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, which contains five of the original measures from the scale and two measures that pertain specifically to body image. Images from the Facebook pages of popular United States retailers were rated in a pre-survey in order to determine which models are considered thin and which models are average and overweight. College-aged female subjects were asked to view either the form with thin models and answer distraction questions or the form with average and overweight models and answer distraction questions. Both forms concluded with the same version of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. The scores obtained from the scale were compared to see the impact of viewing thin models versus other models. The distributions of the self-esteem scores revealed that visual interaction with different types of models has an immediate impact on self-esteem, particularly in regard to body image perception. Young women who viewed thin models earned fewer high self-esteem scores than the young women who viewed the average and overweight models. The implications of these findings are relevant to marketers and business owners because they show that the choices marketers make to increase sales may also have a negative impact on society.