Perceptions of underweight images: Are women with anorexia nervosa perceived as attractive and healthy?


The current study examined the impact of receiving information about a woman's eating disorder status on perceptions of the woman's health and attractiveness. A total of 99 females and 84 males viewed a photo of a model who had disclosed her diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. Participants were randomly divided into three groups: model (M) group (those who were informed that the photo showed a model), eating disorders (ED) group (those who were informed that the photo showed a woman with an eating disorder), and no description control (C) group. Male and female participants in the ED group rated the woman in the photo as less healthy than did participants in the M and C groups. However, there were no differences between groups for ratings of attractiveness or the participants' desire to achieve a similar look (for females). Additionally, male participants rated the photo as less attractive than female participants had predicted. Finally, internalization of the thin ideal was a significant predictor of ratings of health and attractiveness of the woman in the photo.

Document Type





thin-ideal, anorexia, perception, attractiveness, healthiness

Publication Date


Journal Title

Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity