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The dangers of looking at pictures of skinny women

Looking at images of skinny women for just 15 minutes is all it takes to change a man’s taste, researchers have found.

The findings, based on the response from a group of remote villagers without access to the internet, were the same for photos of plus-sized models.

It’s the first study of its kind to prove that beauty ideals can change easily – even in those cultures not ‘driven for thinness’. 

British scientists tested the idea of image exposure in those who aren’t bombarded with constant body ideals through the internet and TV. 

The findings, based on a group of remote villagers without access to the internet, were the same for photos of plus-sized models

It's the first study of its kind to prove that beauty ideals can change easily - even in those cultures not 'driven for thinness' (pictured are some of the thin models shown in the study)

It’s the first study of its kind to prove that beauty ideals can change easily – even in those cultures not ‘driven for thinness’ (pictured are some of the thin models shown in the study)

They visited the Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua for the study, where the locals aren’t accustomed to the electricity and are considered naive to the media.

Dr Jean-Luc Jucker, of Durham University, led the research, which was based on 80 participants of both genders.

What did the researchers say? 

He said: ‘The thin ideal is the western concept of an ideally slim… female body and its omnipresence in the mass media has a negative impact on women’s health. 

‘Media consumption is associated with a drive for thinness, body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, and disordered eating in women of western societies.

‘Furthermore, cross-cultural research suggests that the media have similar effects when they are introduced into non-western or non-industrialised societies. 

‘No study, however, has attempted to induce a change in female body size ideals in a population not exposed to the thin ideal and has currently no access to the media.

‘Here we show experimentally that a short exposure to the thin ideal can change body size ideals in a media-naive population.’ 

How was the study carried out? 

Participants were all aged between 16 and 78, suggesting the effects are similar for those of varying ages.

Here we show experimentally that a short exposure to the thin ideal can change body size ideals in a media-naive population 

Dr Jean-Luc Jucker, Durham University

Before being exposed to images of women, they were asked to create their ‘ideal’ body shape using computer software, New Scientist reports.

Popular Western clothing stores’ catalogues were then shown to the volunteers, according to the study published in the journal bioRxiv.

Half were shown images taken from the booklets from thin women – with a UK dress size between four and six. This is a one or two in the US.

The other participants were shown photos of plus-sized female models. They had a UK dress size between 16 and 28. This is between 12 and 24 in the US. 

What did they find? 

Just 15 minutes after seeing the images, the villagers were asked to recreate their ideal body size on a woman using the same software.

Those who were exposed to skinny females chose thinner body shapes than their original preference. Those who saw plus-sized models chose a bigger shape. 

The researchers, which included teams from Newcastle and Lincoln universities, are unsure how long the body ideal effect lasts.

However, they believe the overall impact is likely to be lasting considering that most adults are constantly exposed to such images. 

THE CHANGING BODY SHAPE

These two pictures illustrate the extraordinary way that women’s bodies have changed in the last 60 years.

In 1957, the average-sized British woman was 5ft 2ins tall, weighed 9st 10lbs, had size 3 feet and was a dress size 12.

She had a petite figure, with a slim waist of 28 inches and 34B breasts. Miss Average was expected to live 73 years and earned just £10 a week.

But flash forward 60 years and the shape of the typical British woman has changed dramatically – most strikingly in her waist and breasts.

In 1957, the average-sized British woman was 5ft 2ins tall, weighed 9st 10lbs, had size 3 feet and was a dress size 12

She had a petite figure, with a slim waist of 28 inches and 34B breasts. Miss Average was expected to live 73 years and earned just £10 a week

In 1957, the average-sized British woman was 5ft 2ins tall, weighed 9st 10lbs, had size 3 feet and was a dress size 12. She had a petite figure, with a slim waist of 28 inches and 34B breasts. Miss Average was expected to live 73 years and earned just £10 a week

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk