The red-hot curvy-girl revolution is taking a major wallop thanks to a new study claiming that ads featuring plus-size models make women suffer from lower self-esteem, ASU News reports.
Since when did Kate Moss get her PhD?
The study, conducted by Arizona State University, Germany's University of Cologne, and Erasmus University in the Netherlands, measured the effect that larger models have on female consumers of various sizes and found that curvy bodies make women with normal and high body-mass indexes (BMIs) depressed, according to the paper.
And that news has plus-size model Crystal Renn (aka Glamour's upcoming cover girl) fighting mad. "I think one-standard beauty is going to make women have lower self-esteem," she tells StyleList in an exclusive interview.
Picking up from previous studies showing that underweight models have a negative impact on women's self-esteem, the research team reportedly factored in the size of the consumer as well.
"We show it is not just the size of the models in the ads, but also the relative distance between the consumer's size and the model's size that affects self-esteem," Naomi Mandel, marketing associate professor at ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business, told the paper.
Curvier women with high BMIs experienced a dip in self-esteem while looking at both thin and plus-size models, because they saw themselves as different from the thin, "perfect" types and similar to the overweight ones, the paper reports.
Meanwhile, those with normal BMIs reportedly reacted strongly to the ads, feeling good when looking at a thin model they related to, then getting down when looking at a larger model because they worried about being similar and being overweight.
By contrast, thin, low-BMI women had no negative impact, because they identified with the slim models and saw themselves as different from the plus-size models, according to the study.
The conclusion? Ad campaigns with voluptuous models are a big bust because, presumably, no one will want to buy something advertised by an average-sized woman who has you staring at the bottom of a pint of Ben & Jerry's while listening to Joy Division.
"We believe it is unlikely that many brands will gain market share by using heavy models in their ads," Mandel told the paper.
"We found that overweight consumers demonstrated lower self-esteem -- and therefore probably less enthusiasm about buying products -– after exposure to any-size models in ads [versus ads with no models].
"Also, normal-weight consumers experienced lower self-esteem after exposure to moderately heavy models, such as those in Dove soap's Real Women campaign, than after exposure to moderately thin models."
The kicker? The study, which will be published in April's Journal of Consumer Research, reportedly claims that plus-size models could be effective if used in ads for -- wait for it -- gyms or diet pills. Because, you know, then normal-size gals will be so horrified and worried about getting fat that they'll hightail it to the nearest Weight Watchers.
Well, screw that.
Renn, whose "nude" Glamour shoot with other plus-size models garnered the publication's most positive feedback ever, says fashion magazines and advertisers should represent all body types that everyone can relate to, and sees the recent trend in size diversity as a step in the right direction.
"Women are hungry for this," she tells StyleList. "They are empowered by this."
Call us crazy, but we love seeing curvy figures on the runway and on billboards. They don't make us feel bad about ourselves -- they make us feel bad about the other fashion brands and advertisers that think that curvy women can't be sexy.
Exhibit A: British department store Debenhams tells StyleList they've received initial positive feedback to the curvier mannequins they're currently road-testing in the Oxford Street store.
Exhibit B: A separate study we previously reported on that says curvy female bodies give men a high. So, men get a high but woman want to jump off a cliff? Hmm...
And should we bother pointing out that high-BMI women reacted negatively to ultra-thin models? Should we ban them, too? Fair is fair, right?
Meanwhile, check out the voluptuous models that ruled the Giles runway.