Objectives: The present study investigated the exposure effect of plus-size models on body dissatisfaction and mood, and the nature of participants’ commenting behaviour towards images of plus-size models.

Method: The study was comprised of 92 female university students who were exposed to Facebook photos of plus-size models. Participants were randomly allocated to having the exposed photo paired with positive, negative, or neutral comments, and participants were asked to leave an anonymous comment on each picture.

Results: Results showed that participants had less body dissatisfaction and better mood after exposure to plus-size models regardless of the comment condition. Additionally, comment condition significantly influenced the type of comments participants contributed — in photos paired with negative comments, participants were significantly more likely to leave negative comments themselves, with 40% of participants leaving negative comments compared with 4% in the positive condition, and 12% in the neutral condition.

Conclusion: This study provides evidence that the negative comments of plus-size models can encourage bystanders to contribute negative comments themselves; reinforcing the need to develop better protocols to oppose cyberbullying and encourage an online environment of positivity.


body image, body dissatisfaction, social media, cyberbullying, exposure, mood

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