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The Impact Of Media's Representation Of Ideal Body Size On Attitudes Towards Own Body Image

1224 words - 5 pages

(Posavac, Posavac & Posavac, 1998). It has even been suggested that the Medias overwhelming representation of thinness has a large contributing factor towards young women’s attitudes of their own body weight dissatisfaction (Jacobi & Cash‚ 1994). This dissatisfaction stems from discrepancies between the accepted standard of female body image repeatedly shown in today’s media and their own bodies leading to the formation of attitudes that their own weight is not adequate. For example, a meta-analysis comparing the results of 25 studies that presented media images of thin models, reported a significant effect size (of d= -0.31) across all studies, showing that women feel worse about their own body image after exposure to thin images than other types of images (Groesz, Levine, & Murnen, 2002). In addition, Levine, Smolak and Hayden (1994) found that the media, and more specifically magazines, have a significant effect on one’s attitudes about body image and irregular eating of teenage girls. It has been found that the ideal women’s body weight shown in magazines has decreased in past years, so that the average model used is 20 percent underweight (Wiseman, Gray, Mosimann, & Ahrens). This has important implications as studies investigating the link between the causes of body image dissatisfaction and eating disorders have consistently demonstrated the sociocultural emphasis on thinness as the most common cause of the development of such psychological disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, in which 10 million women and 1 million men are estimated to suffer from (Shisslak, Crago & Estes, 1995).
Research has revealed that it is the thinness of the models, rather than how attractive they are, that leads to increased body-image dissatisfaction. For example, Halliwell and Dittmar (2004) found that media exposure to thin models caused more body-focused anxiety in comparison to average-size models or no models. This finding suggests that by using average-size models in advertising, it may protect some women from developing body dissatisfaction and will help avoid worsening of any existing body-image concerns. Many campaigns have tried to address the detrimental effects that the medias consistent endorsement of thinness has on women’s self-esteem, and the subsequent impact on mental health and eating disorders. More specifically, a recent drive by the Government, in particular the Equalities minister Jo Swinson, has encouraged the introduction of the use of plus-size mannequins and models by clothing retailers. It has been suggested that many women want to see more realistic images of body shapes in magazines, TV and on the high street, and having models and mannequins that portray that may promote healthier attitudes towards our own bodies among women, increasing body confidence.
Previous research has highlighted the consequences of overrepresentation of thinness in the media on attitudes about one’s own body image, which in many cases leads to negative...

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