Apr. 30, 1999 Magazine ads featuring female fashion models have an immediate negative impact on a woman's self-esteem, according to a University of Toronto study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.
Led by Dr. Leora Pinhas, researchers asked 118 female university students about their mood, body satisfaction and eating patterns. One week later, the women were asked the same questions immediately after viewing a series of ads, with half of the women being exposed to ads from popular women's magazines while the others looked at images which contained no pictures of people.
"The experimental group responded immediately with depression and hostility after viewing the "ideal women" shown in these ads," says Pinhas, a lecturer in U of T's department of psychiatry. "And this was only after viewing 20 pictures. Think about how many hundreds of photos are in some of these fashion and lifestyle magazines, not to mention billboards, television and movies."
Pinhas says Western culture needs to rethink how it portrays the female body so more women can feel comfortable about themselves and not be pushed towards eating disorders. "I know I'd be hard pressed to find a young woman who felt good about her body, never dieted and ate normally."
Pinhas is also director of the Eating Disorders Treatment Program at York County Hospital.
Steven de Sousa
U of T Public Affairs
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