Skinny Celebrities Give Us Self-EsteemFebruary 23, 2012 No Comments
Previous studies have shown that seeing thin women in magazines may trigger a self-loathing response in women.
But new research casts all of this perceived negativity aside to say that viewing skinny-minnie models may actually boost a woman’s self-esteem.
Huh? Excuse my dumbfounded response, but before now science has declared war against women’s fashion magazines and the harmful messages they send women about body size. It’s an argument that women have been hearing even before the glorification of waif in the Twiggy era and then later with Kate Moss’ “heroin chic” look.
With eating disorders and discontent running rampant, nobody has ever questioned the premise that these images are detrimental to women, but there may be an end in sight to the vicious cycle of body-hating. When women feel a personal connection to a celebrity, whether they share the same birthday or have strong friendship-like feelings, their self-esteem actually increases, according to experiments performed on 150 college women.
Ariana Young, the study’s lead author, calls it a parasocial, or one-sided, relationship. The chosen star may not be able to say, “Girl, you’re smokin’ hot,” but researchers say this doesn’t matter. When looking at slim celebrities, women tend to focus more on similarities than differences, and positive comparisons result in elevated self-esteem.
For all of you skeptics out there, I know, it just doesn’t seem right. Young compares the phenomenon to the way spouses view each other (in a positive light where imperfections are diminished), but these are two people who know each other intimately. It’s strange to say that our idols can actually make us feel better about ourselves when it’s such a one-sided relationship.
Yet I want to believe, if only so women can stop feeling awful when they look at rock hard celebrity bodies. It’s great that this study can look at the argument from a different — and much more positive — perspective, and there may be something to their findings. If a svelte celebrity can help in the long road to finding self-worth, so be it.
Regardless, it should be mind over matter. It’s important to feel comfortable in your own skin despite being bombarded with twigs 24/7.