Study shows sexy celebrity image is unattainable for most women

Research news

Monday 28 May 2012

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Celebrity culture makes women feel worse about themselves as they cannot afford to emulate the ideal, according to a paper  published in the Journal of Gender Studies.

In the study, which is authored by Adrienne Evans from Coventry University and Sarah Riley from Aberystwyth University, a group of 28 women discuss sexiness and say that the sexy celebrity image of people like Abi Titmuss and Katie Price is impossible to compete with for many women: ‘I just wouldn't have the time or money to do it’ was a typical comment.

The study, which took place over three years and involved a series of interviews with women, discovered that high street sex shops such as Ann Summers also had the effect of making women feel worse as it costs money to attain the sexy ideal that is promoted through the stores.

Evans and Riley’s findings indicate that participants were able to celebrate the success of other women who had ‘made it’ in the celebrity world and fulfilled multiple roles as entrepreneur, celebrity and ‘no fool’ savvy business women. But these women also worried about their own successes and scrutinised themselves against these celebrities.

Adrienne Evans, senior lecturer in media and communications at Coventry University, said: 

The idea of having lots of time and money to do constant beauty work is unrealistic to most women in the current economic climate, and yet time and money seem to be the things women are measuring themselves against as markers of success. However, our research also shows that we have very few approaches to challenging this in ways that don’t blame other women.

For further information please contact Sarah-Jane Dean, Communications Assistant, Coventry University, on +44 (0)24 7688 8245 or email