A study from Arizona State University, University of Cologne in Germany and Erasmus University in the Netherlands found that campaigns utilizing real sized women, which includes ‘plus-sized’ models, “are unlikely to work on their intended customers”.
“We found that overweight consumers demonstrated lower self-esteem ? and therefore probably less enthusiasm about buying products ? after exposure to any size models in ads (versus ads with no models). Also, normal-weight consumers experienced lower self-esteem after exposure to moderately heavy models, such as those in Dove soap’s ‘Real Women’ campaign, than after exposure to moderately thin models.”
An interesting finding that came from the study was that the size of the reader relative to the size of the model is a factor in self-esteem.
The takeaway here: women can’t be fat and they won’t ever make more money than men.
Check out all the findings, here.
Editor’s Note:In our opinion, the jury is still out on this one. We’re waiting ’til there’s a meta analysis of a whole bunch of studies on the impact of different size models on consumers. The study continues to say:
These findings could be used to prompt changes in behavior. For example, if a normal-size woman sees moderately heavy images in ads for weight-loss products, she might feel overweight and be more inclined to buy a diet plan or gym membership. The same premise could apply to using heavy images in public service announcements aimed at fighting the obesity epidemic.