All those magazines that tell you how to get healthy and beat anxiety may be making you unhealthy and anxious.
A recent study had people look at either plus-sized models or skinny models, then rate people of different weights based on their attractiveness (using pictures like the ones shown above). Women who had just looked at attractive, skinny models were more likely to rate underweight women as attractive than women who had just looked at attractive plus-sized models.
In comparison, men’s beauty standards did not differ based on the models (all women) that they had just seen, but for women, the images seemed to establish a standard.
Take that finding and apply it to our culture, saturated with images of beautiful people, air-brushed to have perfect skin and freakish proportions, and it’s easy to see how these beauty standards become normal very quickly.
And speaking of very quickly, it only took one minute of viewing models to have a significant effect on beauty standards. The study had subjects look at twelve pictures for five seconds a piece, then they tested the subjects’ on what weight they found a woman most attractive, using doctored photos (see above). The women who had just viewed plus-sized models chose a healthy weight for the one they found most attractive. Only the women who had just seen skinny models chose pictures showing a woman who was too skinny for optimal health.
We can complain about supermodel culture all we want, but there’s an easy way to be the change you want to see in the world: don’t support magazines and other media that promote an unhealthy and unrealistic body image. Be aware that the images we see change our standards, and try to counteract that in how you see people. And perhaps most of all, spend more time looking at the real people around you than the Photoshopped ones you see in magazines.