Victoria's Secret models and fashion shows brew controversy

New study sheds light on how female models make other women feel bad about their bodies

Entertainment Desk November 15, 2017

A new study has shed light on how female models make other women feel bad about their bodies. According to research published by Chapman University in California, most women feel worse about their bodies when looking at images of thin, bikini-clad models, reported Yahoo! Lifestyle.

“A controversy has been brewing among researchers who study body image,” says David A Frederick, assistant professor of health psychology.

He continued, “Some researchers claim that media has substantial effects on how women feel about their bodies but a recent summary of the existing research claimed there was little evidence of these effects. Those researchers claim that pressure from friends and peers is what really matters. So we wanted to hear from women themselves.”


After seeing photos of the models, many women expressed their feelings, “The images made me feel worse about myself because the models’ bodies were all so toned and beautiful. They were tall, skinny and had smooth skin. Compared to them, I felt ugly and not attractive,” shared one.

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Another went on to say, “It made me feel way worse about my appearance because I do not look as fit as the girls in those pictures. I don’t have that kind of body and couldn’t without extreme exercise and diet. I already was feeling a little down about my body today because I haven’t been eating well and now I feel worse that I definitely don’t look like that and summer is coming,”


After exposure to the models, women showed a growing interest in diet and exercise with the goal of losing weight, and 47% stated they were less willing to wear a swimsuit in public.

The aspects of the models that caused the women the most distress were, in order: stomach, weight, waist, general appearance, muscle tone, legs, thighs, buttocks, hips and arms.

Astonishingly, a small fraction of women — 5-11%— actually felt better about their bodies after looking at the models. It’s possible that the images reminded women of their own appeal or allowed them to engage in the “downward social comparison” theory, in which people compare themselves with those they consider less attractive.


“Many of these models must spend extraordinary time and energy to sculpt their bodies — it’s literally is a full-time job,” said Frederick. “Don’t forget, lighting, makeup, and digital manipulation of images also alter their appearance.”

He added, “Think of these models like athletes — the average person can watch LeBron James play basketball and admire his athleticism and skill, but not feel worse because he is not a realistic comparison point.”

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Most important, attraction is not one-size-fits-all. “Studies show repeatedly that women overestimate the level of thinness that men find attractive,” says Frederick. “While most men likely agree that the typical Victoria’s Secret model is attractive, they also have their own set of idiosyncratic preferences about the other body types they find attractive,” Frederick concluded.

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