Media Body Image

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Register to read the introduction…There are 3 popular theories employed in social studies concerning correlations between media exposure and body image. The first is social psychologist, Leon Festinger’s 1954 comparison theory, which posits that “people evaluate through comparison with others and are more likely to compare themselves to those who are similar to them and who are attractive”, and people can find others lacking, as in downward comparison, or find themselves to be lacking, such as in upward comparison. Next, the cultivation theory was put forward in 1998 by George Gerbner, who suggested that with increased television use, perceptions of reality start to fall in accordance to what people view on television. In 1994, Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory assumes that people learn and model the behaviors of attractive others. The common factor that links these theories are, as a result of media exposure, females are are likely to assimilate the idea that “a slim body is a fundamental component of beauty, physical health, success, and happiness” and subsequently, they can “transform and renew themselves thanks to the technology of fashion, dieting, and exercise” and most importantly, believe that fatness is a sign of failure and indicates no personal control (Levine & Smolak,…show more content…
Body image issues are compounded by unrealistic portrayals of women in the media. 1. Nichter & Nichter (1991) found that the ideal teenage girl was described as being 5’7”, 100 pounds, and size 5 with long blonde hair and blue eyes. If this were a real person, she would represent a body mass index lower than 16, which is extremely unrealistic and bordering on anorexic. On the same note, the average model portrayed in the media is approximately 5’1 1” and 120 pounds. By contrast, the average American woman is 5’4“ and 140 pounds (Wolf, 1991). On top of that, less than 10% of female television characters are overweight or of average weight (Gonzalez-Lavin & Smolak, 1995; Heinberg, 1996).

II. Various media sources such as fashion and fitness magazines, television, movies, music videos, advertising, and social networks promotes ‘thin
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The American Psychiatric Association Work Group on Eating Disorders found in 2000 that the ratio of men to women plagued by eating disorders were between 1:6 and 1:10. This trend is also seeing an increase in non-English speaking countries like Spain, Argentina, Fiji and also affecting more Japanese and Chinese women than ever before. This is proven to result from media exposure because women with eating disorders demonstrated a significant increase in perceptual body image disturbance following exposure to photographs of models from popular fashion magazines (Waller, Hamilton & Shaw, 1992). In 1990, Irving discovered that participants who were shown photographs of thinner models reported significantly less self-esteem and weight satisfaction than subjects shown photographs or larger models. In another study, it was reported that a 3-minute exposure to 12 photographs of models taken from popular women’s magazines led to transitory increases in depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurity, and body dissatisfaction that were not evident for controls who viewed photographs of average-sized models (Stice & Shaw, 1994). In 2003, a survey by Utter et al. in 4746 boys and girls found that girls who read articles about diets and weight loss in magazines were 7 times more likely to practice to unhealthy weight control behaviours and 6 times more likely to resort to extreme measures such as using diet pills, laxatives, diuretics and vomiting. Also, Harrison (2000) found that extent

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