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Photos Model Women Can Depress Real Women

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 724 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... THE KATE MOSS EFFECT ON DEPRESSION By Jennifer Thomas
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 4, 2002
      NHNE News List
      Current Members: 724
      Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message.


      By Jennifer Thomas
      From HealthScoutNews / ABC News
      October 30, 2002


      Women, you know that crummy feeling you get after leafing through a fashion
      magazine chock-full of models who, let's face it, look way better than you?

      It's not all in your head, a new study says.

      Researchers found that women who looked at advertisements featuring
      stereotypically thin and beautiful women showed more signs of depression and
      were more dissatisfied with their bodies after only one to three minutes of
      viewing the pictures.

      The women who registered the biggest drop in self-image after viewing the
      pictures were those who already felt bad about themselves to begin with,
      said Laurie Mintz, lead author of the study and an associate professor of
      educational and counseling psychology at University of Missouri-Columbia.

      "It's like a vicious cycle for a lot of women," Mintz said. "Basically,
      women who already feel ashamed of themselves are the people who are going to
      be most impacted by those images."

      Researchers divided 91 Caucasian women ages 18 to 31 into two groups. The
      first group was shown advertisements for underwear, nail polish, jewelry,
      lotion, gum, and liquor that featured rail-thin, seemingly flawless women.
      The other group of women was shown ads for the same types of products
      without people in them.

      Mintz and graduate student Emily Borchers then used three well-accepted
      tests to measure psychological changes after viewing the images, including
      depression, self-esteem, and body satisfaction.

      The body satisfaction test, called the Objectified Body Consciousness Scale,
      is designed to assess to what degree a woman sees herself as an object, how
      ashamed she is that her body does not measure up to cultural ideas, and how
      much she believes she's responsible for her body not meeting the cultural

      One portion of the questionnaire asks women to rate, on a scale of one to
      five, their happiness with 35 body parts, including their nose, lips, waist,
      thighs, overall weight, and body hair.

      Researchers found that after looking at the pictures of the beautiful models
      for one to three minutes, the women's body dissatisfaction increased
      significantly. Depression levels registered a slight uptick, while
      self-esteem was unchanged.

      "What is really, really striking to me is that it took such a short time,"
      Mintz said.

      The study has not yet been published.

      Joan Chrisler, a professor of psychology at Connecticut College, said she's
      not surprised by the findings. "There have been several studies that have
      shown after women look at fashion magazines their body satisfaction and
      their feelings about themselves decrease," Chrisler said.

      So what's a woman to do?

      Avoid reading fashion or celebrity-gossip type magazines, Chrisler said. Of
      course, it's hard to avoid billboards, television, and all the other places
      these images are shown.

      So try to remember images are not realistic.

      Forget airbrushing. Models in today's ads can have portions of their bodies
      digitally altered to erase even the most minute mole, bulge, or asymmetry.
      Some "models" depicted in ads aren't real people at all, but composites,
      Chrisler said.

      Today's mass media is blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, making
      it seem as if "perfection" is attainable with the right diet, the right
      beauty products, the right plastic surgeon, Mintz said. For the vast
      majority of women, this, of course, isn't the case.

      "Within current mass media messages, the distinctions between reality and a
      fictionalized ideal are often unclear," Mintz said. "Unlike art, literature
      and music, which are usually in the context of something unattainable, the
      images that that individuals are constantly exposed to through the mass
      media are perceived as realistic, and thus, seem to set cultural standards."

      In the study, Mintz cited previous research that asked adolescent girls what
      the ideal woman looked like. The girls said she's 5 feet 7 inches tall,
      weighs 100 pounds, is a size 5, and is blond and blue-eyed.

      "What we need is for young women to stand up and say, 'I've had it.
      Enough!'" Chrisler said.

      Define your standards for beauty, Chrisler suggested. "It's only the ideal
      if you accept it as the ideal, and you don't have to. You can ask yourself:
      'What does beauty mean to me?' You can decide beauty is a range or something
      internal or a sparkle in the eye."

      What to Do

      To read more about women and their struggles with body image, visit the
      Boston Women's Health Book Collective:


      About Face is a group trying to change the way the media and ad industry
      depicts women:



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