Exposure to body diversity images as a buffer against the thin-ideal: An experimental study

Psychol Health Med. 2020 Dec;25(10):1165-1178. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2020.1734219. Epub 2020 Mar 1.


There has recently been a call for the use of more diverse images by the media to promote body satisfaction. This experimental study evaluated the impact of body diversity images and whether these could act as a buffer against thin-ideal norms. Female participants (n = 106, aged 16-30 years) completed measures of body compassion, body and face satisfaction before and after random allocation to images reflecting one of three interventions: control, body diversity and thin-ideal. Attitudes towards thin-ideal images were also assessed. The results showed significant differences between groups for overall body compassion, the body compassion subtype of body kindness, body satisfaction and face satisfaction with those viewing the body diversity images reporting higher scores after exposure compared to the other two groups. Those in the body diversity group also displayed more negative attitudes towards thin-ideal images compared to controls. No between groups differences were found for body compassion subtypes relating to common humanity, motivated action and body criticism or positive attitudes to the thin-ideal images. In sum, exposure to body diversity images had a positive impact on body kindness and overall body compassion and body satisfaction providing experimental support for the use of diversity images as a buffer against thin-deals.

Keywords: Body image; body diversity; body positivity; body satisfaction; media.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Empathy* / physiology
  • Face
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual* / physiology
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Thinness*
  • Young Adult