One eye tracking study conducted at Flinders University in Australia demonstrated that women do notice these warning labels, but the labels often direct women’s attention precisely to the areas of the image that were airbrushed. Without a “before” picture to go along with the label, you can’t know how, exactly, the image was altered. So you’re left with a curiosity that can drive you to pay more attention to the image. In other words, women may focus more on the potentially harmful components of these images after being warned about them.
Researchers at Kenyon College analyzed dozens of Halloween costumes, Valentine’s Day cards and action figures targeted at either girls or boys. Almost 90 percent of the female characters in these pieces of pop culture were adorned with what the researchers called “decorative clothing” — clothing that impedes movement. In contrast, nearly 80 percent of male characters wore functional clothing that encouraged free movement. A Spider-Man suit lets you run and play without worrying about exposing your body or tearing your costume. A crinoline-boosted princess gown requires you to sit like a lady, manage to avoid tripping on your skirts, and keep your head upright, lest you lose your tiara.