Changing rooms . . and emotions.
THE size, shape and colour of shop changing rooms and mirrors have a significant influence on women's perceptions of their body shape, according to researchers in Merseyside.
Academics at the University of Liverpool have discovered how women's attitudes towards their body change in different shopping environments.
Dr Rachel Colls says women prefer shopping in stores with larger changing rooms and fewer mirrors.
The geographer found women have a detailed knowledge of shop layouts, which enables them to choose environments where they feel more comfortable about their bodies.
Factors likely to make them feel uncomfortable include small changing rooms that open directly onto the main shop floor, and too many mirrors.
The team also found cream and pastel colours were preferable in a changing room, as they reflect the complexion in a flattering light.
Dr Colls said: "Research into women's relationship with their bodies tends to find that clothes shopping and subsequent diets have negative effects on their emotional health.
"My research reveals that women have a detailed knowledge of shopping environments and choose where to go to make them feel more positive about their body.
"The changing room is a space in which the body is on show and where women tend to compare themselves to other women and become more aware of fatty areas of the body, such as the thighs and stomach.
"Some feel more uncomfortable when the changing rooms are attached directly to the main shop floor, as male partners are required to wait outside.
"To show their partner an outfit, they are also forced to show other shoppers as well."
Dr Colls said that mirrors could make women feel uncomfortable as they "are forced to address the body in the present and past, as well as the body they would like in the future".
She added: "Far from feeling victimised in these situations, women address the problem in a positive way.
"They look for shops with larger changing cubicles with adjustable lighting, which allows the shopper to control their environment and thus make their body size more acceptable."
Shops found to make women feel comfortable included Evans, Next and Marks & Spencer.
Boutiques, with smaller changing rooms opening onto the shop floor, were found more likely to make female shoppers feel uncomfortable
Katie Davies enjoys the spacious changing rooms of M&S
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|Publication:||Daily Post (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Aug 18, 2005|
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