Mirrors, Models In Adverts Impact On Body Satisfaction

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Speakers at the forthcoming Appearance Matters Conference, organised by the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) at the University of the West of England (UWE), say that we need to wave goodbye to size 0 models and consider the impact of mirrors in fitness centres on body image and resulting fitness monitoring.

Phillippa Diedrichs and Christina Lee from the University of Queensland will present a paper entitled Waif Goodbye! Average size models in the media that explores the effectiveness of using average sized models in advertising. They will share the findings of a recent research project conducted in Australia that showed a selection of men and women aged 17 to 25 a series of adverts using no models, thin models and average sized models.

Their findings suggest that average sized models are effective and healthy advertising alternatives to ultra-thin models providing a powerful call for change in the media.

Ivanka Prichard and Marika Tiggemann will discuss a study that investigated the relationship between women's choice of standing position in a mirrored aerobics room in relation to BMI and body image.

500 aerobics participants aged 18 to 50 years were recruited from six fitness centres in South Australia. Choice of standing position (back, middle, front of room near or away from mirrors) showed that irrespective of BMI those who preferred to stand further away from mirrors and towards the back of the room had significantly greater disordered eating symptomatology.

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The findings point to a need to monitor women at the back of aerobics rooms to ensure that they still enjoy exercise and to safeguard against greater body image concerns.

Key note speeches will be delivered by internationally renowned appearance research experts Professor Nichola Rumsey Co-Director of CAR at UWE and Professor Marika Tiggeman from Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia.

Professor Tiggeman will give a speech entitled The role of mass media in body image: What we know and don't know' at 11.30 on Tuesday 1 July. Professor Rumsey will talk on Busting the beauty myths? Facts and fiction in appearance research on the second day of the conference, Wednesday 2 July at 11.00.

The third 'Appearance Matters' conference, a bi-annual event organised by the world leading Centre for Appearance Research will be held at Explore At-Bristol on 1 and 2 July 2008. The conference is supported by the Healing Foundation, a charity championing the cause of people living with disfigurement.

Diana Harcourt, Co-Director of CAR and conference organiser, tells of the importance of bringing appearance issues to the fore, she said, "Appearance is an important issue to everyone as it is something that affects us all. This conference provides a unique opportunity for researchers, clinicians and those involved in supporting people who have appearance-related concerns to meet, share ideas and identify priorities for further research. The conference also helps inform all areas of patient care in this specialist field by helping to engender a better understanding of the psychology of appearance."

The Appearance Matters conference is the only event worldwide that brings together international experts in this field to discuss these issues and so provides an excellent opportunity for health, social, clinical and counselling psychologists, those working in health policy, surgery, nursing, medicine, health promotion, education, medical sociology and research to convene and inform the future direction for research and working practice in this arena.

The dominant themes will include visible difference, information provision, education, provision of care, body image enhancement, the media and psychosocial interventions.

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