In recent years, the hashtag #strongnotskinny has gained more and more attention on social media as a new generation celebrities and fitness bloggers have changed the way women see their bodies. There’s now more of an emphasis on being fit rather than being skinny.
Now, a new study conducted by Frances Bozsik of the University of Missouri-Kansas City shows that our perception of what constitutes “the perfect female figure” has changed since the ’90s.
Using images of Miss USA pageant winners from 1999 to 2013, taken during the bathing suit round, Bozsik and her team asked 78 female undergraduate students to rate the women’s bodies in terms of how muscular, thin, and attractive they were. Based on these findings, she found that recent winners were more muscular than thin. “There is a shift in the thin ideal female figure to one that now includes the appearance of physical fitness via muscularity” she says.
In the second part of her study, she asked 64 female undergraduate students to look at images of women which were “thin only” and “toned and thin.” The “thin only” pictures were photoshopped to remove any signs of toned muscles. When shown separately, all the images were deemed equally appealing, but when shown side-by-side, it was the toned version that was considered more attractive.
Despite the move away from the “thin” ideal, Bozsik was quick to point out that focusing on any idealized body type is dangerous, particularly when it comes to the social media culture of “fitspiration.”
“These websites allow individuals to collect images of women with whom they identify or admire, essentially allowing them to cultivate their own media repertoire of highly salient, thin, and fit media,” she says. “This process of selecting preferred images and then narrowing the media focus by placing these images on their ‘boards’ may inadvertently increase the risk of developing higher levels of body dissatisfaction, as well as subsequent disordered-eating behaviors that are linked to it.”
This post was written by Rebecca Cope . For more, check out our sister site Grazia.