Images of Unrealistic Beauty Don’t Harm Us Until We Let Them

It's good to know that a shift in thinking can help us to combat the effects these images hold over us, but it's difficult to maintain this forever.


An image cannot hurt you if you don't pay it any mind. This is what researchers from Ryerson University, Canada found when they conducted a study, examining how we process images of ultra-thin models and their effects on us.

The researchers conducted two experiments to see if imagery of seeing ultra-thin models was processed automatically or required a person's full attention in order to feel its effects.

They found participants don't compare themselves to the models when they're preoccupied, nor did it cause their moods change in a detrimental way. However, another group of participants whose minds were unburdened and were able to give their full attention to the images felt worse at the end of the study.

Tom Stafford wrote about the report in BPS, adding:

“Thin-ideal images are so prevalent in our society that even a temporary effect could produce a consistent load of misery for individuals who attend to them. So the deeper question is how society would need to change so that such images are less prevalent, or so that paying attention to them is no longer celebrated as a priority.”

It's good to know that a shift in thinking can help us to combat the effects these images hold over us, but it's difficult to maintain this forever. The underweight, airbrushed models can be seen on billboards, online ads, and while scrolling through an internet store. It's only a matter of time before we're caught off guard and for a moment see our natural curves as unsightly fat. Over time, it gets to some people — young people, especially — more than others and they begin searching for some #thinspiration.

Motivation to start my day #thinspo #thinspiration pic.twitter.com/b8BWPqkCbO

— too fat to function (@sk1nnydreams_) September 10, 2015

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