Most Western societies experience an enormous amount of pressure on individuals to conform and achieve the thin-ideal. This influence by mass-media affects just about anyone including males and females, adults, adolescents, and children. In the early 20th century, women idolized movie icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Camille Clifford. Around 1900s, Camille Clifford started the trend where the standards of beauty were set around 140 pounds, at 5’4” feet tall. Back then, the ideal female body is by having a smaller mid-section (e.g. hourglass ideal/corsets). Marilyn Monroe’s diminutive waist and ostensibly colossal bust line exasperate female fans to engage more on physical activities. The outburst on slender-looking portrayal of body-image mainly began in early 1960s (e.g. Fashion icon, Twiggy).
The exposure to mass media’s portrayal of the thin-ideal body may be linked to body image disturbance in women. Researchers Grabe, Hyde, and Ward (2008) conducted a meta-analysis which examined experimental and correlational studies focusing on media exposure’s relationship with women’s body dissatisfaction, eating behavior, and internalization of the thin ideal. Their findings from these analyses suggest that media exposure is strongly correlated with women’s body dissatisfaction. They assert that exposure to media impacts women’s body image negatively regardless of other variables (e.g. assessment technique, individual variability, age, etc.) It has been suggested that the mass media may be partly responsible for the increase in the prevalence of eating pathology. The widening gap between women’s actual body sizes and the media’s use of unrealistic thin ideals make women feel bad about their bodies and pressures them to lose weight.
Historically, body image research primarily focused on the concerns of women; notwithstanding, recent findings suggest that men are also experiencing high levels of dissatisfaction with their physical appearance. These findings suggest that men desire a body that is high in muscularity and/or low in body fat. The dissatisfaction that arises from the discrepancy between actual and ideal physiques is associated with a number of physical and psychological health problems, including the use of performance-enhancing substances, disordered eating, depression, and low self-esteem. Earlier research suggested that the criteria used by men and women to evaluate their physical selves differed when it comes to the instrumentation of measuring one’s self-worth. Many argue that the importance of physical attractiveness for women’s self-evaluations arose because of the salience of cultural ideals in the media that promote viewing women as objects.
A growing body of research suggests that media portrayal of the thin-ideal has negative effects on body satisfaction, but has this knowledge translated into practical solutions? In this analysis, I will review the literature describing the correlation between media’s portrayal of thin-ideal...