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The fashion industry has long been criticised for pedalling unrealistic body images. And now the rest of us have science on our side.

Women experience a boost in their psychological health after seeing models who reflect realistic body shapes and sizes, rather than underweight models, new research has found.

They’re more likely to pay attention to and remember these models, too, according to researchers from Florida State University.

Researchers recruited 49 women who all wanted to lose weight, and showed them a series of images of thin, average and plus-size fashion models. At the same time, they measured the women’s psychophysiological responses, which is the interaction between the mind and the body.

After looking at each image, the women were asked about their body satisfaction, and how much they had compared themselves to the model they saw.

The women made more comparisons with the thin models, and had lower body satisfaction. The opposite was found when they viewed average and plus-size models.

Jessica Ridgway, an assistant professor working on the study, said:

We found overwhelmingly that there is a clear psychological advantage when the media shows more realistic body types than the traditional thin model

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