The Social Comparison Theory: Being a Zero
Just a few years ago, being referred to as a “zero” was something that everyone wanted to avoid. Someone that was a “zero” was laughed at and ridiculed for being worthless and unpopular. It has not been until recently that being a “zero” could be a good thing. In today’s advertising and entertainment world, not only are women superior if they are a size zero, but size zero and size two body frames seem to have become the only body type acceptable for a woman to be. The Social Comparison theory offers an explanation as to why women are beginning to feel immense pressure to live up to the “ideal body type” presented to them on nearly every medium.
Leon Festinger (1954) was the first to explore the Social Comparison theory and give it a definition. He tested several hypotheses and concluded that human beings experience a socio-psychological process which drives the necessity for them self evaluate and to do so by comparing themselves to others (Festinger, 1954). George R. Goethals and John M. Darley (1987) later defined the theory as an interpersonal process in that “one person evaluates his or her own opinion or ability by comparing it with the opinions expressed or abilities displayed by other people” (p. 21). They also noted that when a person is going to compare his or herself to another, he or she will often choose a person who is similar is such categories as gender and age (Goethals & Darley, 1987).
Many studies have been conducted that use the Social Comparison theory to explain the negative effects media have had on women’s body image. An experiment conducted by Todd G. Morrison, Rudolf Kalin and Melanie A. Morrison (2004) showed that women reported being exposed to idealistic body images in media more often than men did. Females also proved to be more likely to compare themselves to others than men, and also had lower self esteem in regard to their appearance (Morrison, Kalin, Morrison, 2004). With results that illustrate that this problem is so much more relevant to women, it is not hard to understand why the Social Comparison theory is negatively impacting women’s thoughts on body image and beauty.
Jolanda Veldhuis, Elly Konijn, Hanneke Hoogervorst, and Tanya Beliaeva (2010) claim that female adolescents are most susceptible to feeling inadequate and dissatisfied with their bodies after looking at thin models in media that have been photoshopped in order to make them appear to be unattainably perfect. The authors also claim that the inadequacy that the young girls feel may lead to negative outcomes such as eating disorders or...