PsychGuides.com created the Miss America Morph, which shows how the winners' body mass index has declined over time, while the average American woman's body mass index has increased of the same period.
The women who compete in Miss America, as well as other pageants, dedicate a lot of time and effort to maintaining their physique and health. Still, nearly a third of Miss America winners are considered to be underweight*, making their figures almost unattainable for the average American woman. While the underweight frames of Miss America contestants don’t necessarily represent disordered eating and exercise habits within that group, they can perpetuate an unrealistic expectation for the average female’s body.
Research has shown that during puberty, adolescents, especially females, experience higher levels of body dissatisfaction which can be attributed to the many physical and chemical body changes during this time. Studies have also shown a correlation between ideal body images highlighted in television and the media. This makes teens, and even adults, more susceptible to be influenced by media portrayals of the ideal body. In addition, people with negative body images are also at higher risk of developing eating disorders, suffering from depression, and becoming obsessed with weight loss.