News, Culture & Society

Women feel worse about bodies when shown bikini model pics

Media images of the ‘body beautiful’ make women feel question their looks and lose confidence in themselves, research suggests.  

A study found they feel worse about their bodies when shown pictures of bikini or fashion models.

They made them feel most conscious about their own stomach, followed by their overall weight, then waist, overall appearance and muscle tone.

Next, they evoked negative emotions about their legs, thighs, buttocks, hips, arms and breasts.  

Women who viewed bikini/fashion model images showed more interest in dieting and exercising to lose weight compared to those shown pictures of women in paintings or products.

Nearly half said the photos made them feel too embarrassed to wear a swimsuit in public.

Emily rose to prominence in 2013 after appearing in the music video for Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines song

A study shows women shown media images of ‘perfect’ bikini models made them feel worse about their bodies. Shown here are models Demi Rose and Emily Ratajkowski

‘Our results show that seeing slender and bikini-clad models had an immediate and direct impact on how women feel about their own bodies – and that impact was mostly negative,’ said lead author David Frederick, assistant professor of health psychology at Chapman University in California. 

‘Our findings highlight the important role of media in shaping women’s feelings about their bodies.’ 

How the research was carried out 

Researchers questioned 1,426 women across two studies to share how they felt about their bodies after exposure to 10 fashion models, bikini models, paintings, or products. 

This approach differs from previous studies that relied on women’s general recollections or impressions of how media affected them. 

The study fuels the ongoing debate about how much media portrayals of the ideal body impacts on women’s self-esteem.

The advertising industry has come under attack for excessive airbrushing or ‘Photoshopping’ models to make them appear slimmer with flawless skin. 

The participants provided researchers with statements describing how the images made them feel about their bodies. 

One said: ‘The images made me feel worse about myself because the models’ bodies were all so toned and beautiful. 

‘They were tall, skinny, had smooth skin, and had perfect breasts. Compared to them, I felt ugly and not attractive.’

Another responded: ‘They all look so fit and healthy. I look much worse in comparison. I feel worse because there is nothing that I could do to look like them.’ 

The study was published in the journal Body Image.  


All women like to look their best in a bikini, but one plus-size model is slamming a controversial ad campaign that calls for women to quickly drop weight in time for swimsuit season.

The ad, for Protein World weight loss supplements, has faced overwhelming backlash in the UK, prompting US-based model Ashley Graham to offer up her own message on preparing to hit the beach.

Plus-size model Ashley Graham flaunted her curves in a spoof of the UK's controversial Protein World ad

Plus-size model Ashley Graham flaunted her curves in a spoof of the UK’s controversial Protein World ad

The size 16 model posted a copycat ad on Instagram, mocking Protein World’s tagline, ‘Are you beach body ready?’ instead asking her followers: ‘Are you ready for this beach body?’

Ashley’s post, which includes the hashtag #curvesinbikinis, features a shot from her Swimsuits For All campaign that ran in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, making her the first-ever plus-size model to appear in the issue.

Thousands of people have called out this weight loss supplement ad for 'fat-shaming'

Thousands of people have called out this weight loss supplement ad for ‘fat-shaming’

‘There’s no reason to hide and every reason to flaunt!! [sic]’ she captioned the picture.

Ashley has also helped to promote body confidence at any size by appearing in plus-size retailer Lane Bryant’s I’m No Angel campaign, where she and other women of varying body types posed together in lingerie. The campaign was widely seen as a very public dig at Victoria’s Secret, another brand perceived to prize slim bodies.