Body ideals in women after viewing images of typical and healthy weight models

Body Image. 2013 Sep;10(4):489-94. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2013.04.005. Epub 2013 May 27.


Viewing thin models, pervasive in popular culture, is correlated with body dissatisfaction and anxiety in women. Whether or not the same is true when viewing healthy weight models is unknown. In this study we tested whether viewing healthy weight models increases the ideal female body size. Body image, anxiety, happiness and depression were measured in 44 female participants following viewing of images of thin or healthy weight models (within-subject separated by two weeks). We found that after viewing images of healthy weight models, women's body ideals (as measured by a participant-adjusted virtual model) were significantly larger than when the same women viewed images of very thin models. This effect was greatest in those women with the highest levels of baseline anxiety (as measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). These results suggest that viewing healthy weight models results in more healthy body ideals than those typically promoted through media.

Keywords: Anxiety; Body ideal; Body image; Body satisfaction; Healthy weight; Media.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Mass Media*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Self Concept
  • Thinness / psychology
  • Young Adult