AI programs generated images of the “ideal” male and female body based on social media standards, resulting in unrealistic and often inhuman-looking figures.

The Bulimia Project, an eating disorder awareness group, tasked three AI programs – Dall-E 2, Stable Diffusion, and Midjourney – to create images of the “perfect” male and female body using social media.

The results showed men with shiny skin, bulging muscles, and six-packs (or even eight-packs), and dangerously thin women with six-packs and glowing skin. According to Bulimia Project’s data, 40% of the images were unrealistic and predominantly featured white bodies.

However, the Bulimia Project did not solely blame AI for the unrealistic depictions. Instead, they pointed out that social media and the beauty standards it promotes are the real culprits. To further investigate, the group had the same three AI programs create images of “perfect” bodies for men and women using the entire internet.

The results showed much more racial diversity, and while the bodies were still mostly muscular men and thin women, they were notably more realistic than the images created through social media.

The Bulimia Project explained that social media algorithms favor content that gets the most attention, which could explain why AI-rendered images appear more sexualized. They speculated, “The reason AI produced so many peculiarly shaped bodies from social media content might be because these platforms promote unrealistic body standards to begin with.”



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