Swimsuit issues: promoting positive body image in young women's magazines

Health Promot J Austr. 2011 Aug;22(2):102-6. doi: 10.1071/he11102.


Issue addressed: This preliminary study reviews the promotion of healthy body image to young Australian women, following the 2009 introduction of the voluntary Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image. The Code includes using diverse sized models in magazines.

Method: A qualitative content analysis of the 2010 annual 'swimsuit issues' was conducted on 10 Australian young women's magazines. Pictorial and/or textual editorial evidence of promoting diverse body shapes and sizes was regarded as indicative of the magazines' upholding aspects of the voluntary Code of Conduct for Body Image.

Results: Diverse sized models were incorporated in four of the seven magazines with swimsuit features sampled. Body size differentials were presented as part of the swimsuit features in three of the magazines sampled. Tips for diverse body type enhancement were included in four of the magazines. All magazines met at least one criterion. One magazine displayed evidence of all three criteria.

Conclusion: Preliminary examination suggests that more than half of young women's magazines are upholding elements of the voluntary Code of Conduct for Body Image, through representation of diverse-sized women in their swimsuit issues.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bibliometrics
  • Body Image*
  • Body Size*
  • Clothing / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Periodicals as Topic* / statistics & numerical data
  • Public Policy*
  • Swimming*
  • Young Adult