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Kent study reveals average-sized models could help sell more fashion

Kent study reveals average-sized models could help sell more fashion
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The fashion industry’s preference of size zero models has been criticised a lot in the past, but according to new research from the University of Kent, brands could sell more fashion from using average-sized models in their marketing campaigns.

In the University’s latest research project, Kent Business School’s Dr Xuemei Bian and her team set out to investigate how young women are impacted by the choice of models used in fashion ads.

The results showed that zero-sized and average-sized models could be used interchangeably by big brands, as young women are already used to these fashion house’s choice of models. But, with ‘newer’ designers the study showed that women preferred average-sized models because they had no existing knowledge to base their decision on.

According to the study these preferences were even more distinct amongst the female participants who considered themselves to have low self-esteem.

The research project was done in three studies, where women aged 18-25 were asked which size model they preferred in example ads created by Dr Bian, and how they would rank their self-esteem.

Speaking to, Dr Bian said “The fashion industry’s use of skinny models is very controversial and we have even seen France’s parliament considering a ban. Our research shows that the fashion industry has nothing to fear from using average-sized models in it’s marketing campaigns, and could even find that it sells more of its products by doing so.”

France’s consideration to ban size zero models is the latest attempt by the government to stop brand’s promoting unhealthy body images.

Since 2006 more and more designers have started banning size zero models from walking in their shows, after anorexia became a big issue amongst women. These include big fashion houses from Prada to Armani, with even British designer Victoria Beckham, who was accused very often in the press of being anorexic, not hiring any unhealthy models.

But it hasn’t just been designers taking a stand. In 2012 one of the biggest fashion magazines in the world, Vogue, created a healthy initiative to discourage editors at the publication working with unhealthy models. In her editor’s letter for British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman said the magazine would “work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image” and would work to “be ambassadors for the message of healthy body image.”

Many have criticised France’s attempt to take a stand against size zero, but maybe with this research and similar projects exploring the issue, one day we could see size zero becoming less of a trend.

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