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Skinny models don't sell products, study finds

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The advertising industry has long held the ideal that thin, attractive women can sell anything by way of sex appeal.

However, a recent study from Warwick Business School found that using skinny models in ad campaigns may actually backfire - discouraging women consumers from buying the very product the model is trying to sell.

Pretty models trigger defense mechanism

Researchers say that a skinny, airbrushed model tends to trigger a coping mechanism in women, which makes them become defensive against buying the product out of scorn. The study found this to be especially true when a model was placed right next to a product or service, as opposed to just being part of the scenery or on the opposite side of a two-page ad spread in a magazine. If a model is simply a part of the "atmospheric setting" of an ad, consumers are more likely to buy.

"We found that a woman’s self-perception and consequent effects on product evaluation depend on the degree of attention paid to the idealized image of a woman in advertisements," Dr. Tamara Ansons, study researcher, told The Daily Mail. Simply put, the less the model was blatantly front-and-center visible, the more likely a woman is to buy the product.

"Skinny" ostracizes, "lifestyle" includes

The researchers essentially found that when a model is at the forefront of the campaign through just a face or body, women tend to feel ostracized. But when the model is selling something as part of a lifestyle - in a greater context than just showing off her body - the models, and therefore the products, seem more accessible.

"The attractive person or celebrity is more subdued and, hence, imitable," wrote the authors.

Source: The Daily Mail
Image courtesy of marin/