Date Presented

Spring 5-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Frank Whitehouse, MBA

Second Advisor

Nichole Sanders, PhD

Third Advisor

Dr. Pepper Hanna, PhD


This thesis examines the relationship between female-empowering advertisements and consumer attitudes and perceptions of brands. Currently, there has been consumer resistance against ads that lack diverse size ranges. To show social responsibility, many companies are switching to more authentic and realistic advertisements, featuring a diverse range of models who are not digitally enhanced. The goal of this study was to determine if such practices will increase positive attitudes associated with the brand and its products.

To achieve the goal of my study, I researched and reviewed past studies analyzing the relationship between women’s portrayal in advertisements and consumer reactions to those ads. The data collected in this literature review provided a history or background for the topic, as well as informed my own study, which surveyed female students attending the University of Lynchburg to find the effects of body positive advertisements on self-perception and perceptions of the advertisement and product being displayed.

Results of the study indicated that consumers do not perceive products differently when differently sized models are used. Despite the unorthodox nature of the plus-size advertisements, no negative attitudes were reported by participants towards the plus size model. These results show that body positive campaigns are not necessary for a brand’s success, as consumers reacted similarly to plus size and traditional models, regardless of their body sizes. However, depending on how the brand wishes to position itself in the market and what segment of consumers the brand is targeting, the use of a body positive campaign may be in the brand’s best interest. In addition, brands should consider the use of models in ranging sizes as a way to become socially responsible, as solely thin ideal advertising has known negative effects on women over time.