Recently, a lot of controversy has been in the news about the increase in negative body image among women. This negative body image can lead to a number of different problems in individuals including low self-esteem, eating disorders, and depression. Some factors that can influence this increase in negative body image include age, gender peer influence, and family influence. One of the main factors that has been an influence on the way people view themselves is the media. According to Aubrey (2006), “a primary way that an objectifying culture is propagated is through the media” (p. 159). Everything from magazines, television, and celebrities can have an affect on the way people view themselves. The population that is most affected by this problem in our society is young women. Social comparison, which is when someone compares their own body to other’s bodies, is a common factor for thin-ideal internalization and dissatisfaction of their body (Bessenoff, 2006, p. 239).
Although body dissatisfaction is most popular in young women, the age of onset is much younger. Cusumano and Thompson’s research (as cited in Dohnt & Tiggemann, p. 141) suggests that the age of onset is preadolescent girls (ages 8-11) where young girls start to feel body dissatisfaction and the idea of being thinner. In a study done to research body image in girls as young as 5-8 years old, it was found that concerns about bodies start at that young age (Dohnt & Tiggemann, 2006, p. 148). Because the desire to be thin starts at such a young age, it usually gets worse as girls get older. The more that they are exposed to the media as they get older has a lot to do with it. In another study, it was found that regardless of the media type, when exposed to the perfect body as an experiment, it was led to higher body dissatisfaction (Bell & Dittmar, 2011, p. 478). “Future research should examine primary school children, to determine at what age children become aware of sociocultural beauty ideals and to examine the mechanisms that moderate their impact” (Clay, Vignoles, & Dittmar, 2005, p. 473).
Seeing thin models in the media can even affect a woman’s diet. In a study done, women were shown either a thin model or an average model (Krahe & Krause, 2010, p. 351). After shown the model, they had to choose between either normal snack and a diet snack (Krahe & Krause, 2010, p. 351). 64% of the individuals that shown the thin model chose the diet snack while only 28% of the individuals that were shown the average size model chose the diet snack (Krahe & Krause, 2010, p. 352). According to Krahe & Krause (2010) “women who saw advertisements depicting thin models were more likely to choose the diet variant of a snack than women who saw the same advertisements in which the original model’s image was manipulated to be of normal size” (p. 352).
“Research suggests that appearance focused social comparisons are associated with body image disturbances”...