Skinny Models Are Not Motivating…And They’re Making Us Fatter

shutterstock_119837176As millions of people across the U.S. vow to lose weight once and for all this year, some may be resorting to such tactics as taping up photos of skinny models to their refrigerators and mirrors as a motivator and reminder of what they are striving for. But, according to a new study, this is a really bad idea. Here’s why.

In addition to people plastering images of super thin models around the house, Anne Klesse, a researcher at Tilburg University in the Netherlands explained how our society often does the same as a supposed weight-loss motivator:

There’s one commercial for a cereal brand which actually targets women that want to lose weight. And in this commercial, there’s a woman who wants to fit in a very nice dress. And to make herself more motivated, she puts a picture of a skinny model wearing this dress on her fridge and on the vending machine.

But, according to new research, this doesn’t work. In fact, it often has the opposite effect.

Klesse and her colleagues recruited women who were dieting and decided to see what would happen to their weight loss if they were faced with ultra-thin models. They were each given a diary to record what and when they ate throughout the day. The only difference was, half of the group received a diary that featured a skinny model on the cover and one on every page. The other half got diaries without the photos.

The result? Not only did the skinny models not help dieters lose more weight–they actually led to dieters gaining weight.

Klesse explains how this backfired:

Those people that saw the diary without the model on top—they were actually able to lose weight. Surprisingly, the people that [had the diary with the model on it] were not able to lose weight, and, even worse, they even slightly gained weight.

She went on to say why bombarding ourselves with images of super skinny models doesn’t work:

Being constantly exposed before and after eating, every time I am writing in my diary, I am reminded of a very skinny model, the idea comes up that it is not attainable for me.

Good point. Now if we could just get Hollywood, the media and all those weight loss commercials to quit doing this, maybe, just maybe, we’d see a rise in self-esteem with women–and a drop in weight from those trying to ditch a few pounds.

Do you agree?



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    • Deane Alban

      Advertisers must think we’re dumb. If a super skinny model is in a cereal ad, does anyone really think she owes her figure to breakfast cereal? The reality is she probably lives on lettuce leaves.

      • Amy

        Hi! I’m a super skinny model and I eat more than lettuce. Much more. Please don’t shame my body type because it is different than yours.

      • Deane Alban

        Hi Amy, I’m not shaming your body type – I’m actually highly jealous! :)

    • Liz

      I’d personally think I’d be more motivated by a picture of someone with the body I am trying to get rid of, so I could think “Don’t make a poor choice that can keep you looking like that.” Though, honestly, the best motivation excludes these types of pictures because often diet and excercise make you feel better quicker than you lose weight and if you focus on how good you feel, not the changes in your body, you will stay motivated longer. At least in my experience, focusing on the emotional/mental changes works better