Here's AnyBody member Ben Barry's original research
Image from Dove pro age campaign
While extensive research has demonstrated the harmful impact of using models that reflect a singular notion of beauty on women's wellbeing, few studies have investigated how women evaluate models that reflect a realistic notion of beauty. Through qualitative research of seventy-five participants between the ages of 14-65 in three countries, I explored how women evaluate traditionally attractive models (TAMS) and realistically attractive models (RAMS) in beauty advertising and how their evaluations influence brand attitudes. I found that viewer-source similarity, promotional copy, disposition toward the model, and visual codes affect endorser and brand assessments and that, overall, RAMS received the most positive evaluations. While using TAMS may currently be a profitable strategy for fashion and beauty brands, my study reveals that unrealized potential may exist for brands that feature RAMS in their adverts. Brand managers are advised to select models that reflect the sizes, ages, and ethnic backgrounds of their target market to reap the benefits from women's positive evaluations.
As featured in the Guardian "Young, white and super skinny? We don't buy it, women tell advertisers."http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/jan/10/realistic-advertising-women-judge-research