It’s more than just a trend.

According to a new study conducted at Florida State University (FSU), women are more likely to pay attention to and remember media messagimg with images of average- to plus-size models than those with thin models.  

The study, lead by Russell Clayton, an assistant professor in the FSU School of Communication, interviewed a group of 49 college-age women who all admitted that they desired to be thinner. Each participant was asked a series of questions based on visuals with models of different sizes and how they compared themselves to those images. Many women not only better remembered the models who were average- to – plus-size, they also paid attention to them longer.

“By measuring psychophysiological responses during image exposure, we were able to gain insights into the real-time cognitive and emotional responses that unfold when women are exposed to different-size media fashion models,” Clayton said.

Women feel better about their health when they see someone similar to themselves onscreen.

Jessica Ridgway, an assistant professor in the Retail, Merchandising and Product Development department at FSU who helped shape and conduct the study, said, “We found overwhelmingly that there is a clear psychological advantage when the media shows more realistic body types than the traditional thin model.”

And body diversity is becoming more visible in the fashion community as brands embrace plus-size figures with the expansion of sizes and styles.  Ashley Stewart isn’t the only brand that carries stylish plus-sizes; higher-end labels such as Lafayette 148 New York and Misook are sold at luxury retailers. Moreover, television networks are slowly but surely becoming more inclusive to body diversity. Two examples are WeTV’s House of Curves show and actress Gabourey Sidibe, who kills her character, Becky, on the Fox hit Empire.

Vanity sizing is real. 

For years, the media has depicted the ideal woman as a size 6. But according to a recent Woman’s Day article, the average American woman now wears a size 16.  Body positivity is in the eye of the beholder, and perhaps with the help of the FSU study, the media will begin to use more realistic images of women in its messaging that require models.

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