A new study shows that women of all sizes experience a drop in self-esteem after viewing advertisements. Previous research had indicated that only overweight women and women with eating disorders were negatively affected by these images. The new study measured how 81 women felt about themselves, before exposing them to either neutral images or images of models in magazine ads for three minutes. The women were asked to provide a self-evaluation again, from their body weight to their hair. Consistently, the women who had viewed the magazine advertisements showed a drop in their self-evaluations.
“These unrealistic images of women, who are often airbrushed or partially computer generated, have a detrimental impact on women and how they feel about themselves,” said Laurie Mintz, associate professor of psychology at University of Missouri-Columbia who conducted the research along with project leader Emily Hamilton, a graduate student. “Surprisingly, we found that weight was not a factor. Viewing these pictures was just bad for everyone.”
Ms. magazine has long-recognized the negative impact of sexist advertising on women in its No Comment section, which reproduces particularly egregious and offensive advertisements. Ms. encourages readers to write manufacturers and media outlets to express their protest of negative, derogatory, and unrealistic portrayals of women.