301final - Media Images and their Negative effect on Body...

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Media Images and their Negative effect on Body Satisfaction “Media images of increasingly and, for most women, unrealistically thin and attractive In the United States, the media is widely used and very influential through means of television, magazines, internet, billboards, and radio. The media has the ability to relay a large amount of information to a vast population. In addition, the media has been effective in shaping norms, values, and ideals (Choma, 2007). Unfortunately, the media is not always a positive influence. Everyday, we are bombarded with media in the form of advertisements and slogans, touting the latest weight-loss miracle or exercise program that guarantees that the participant will obtain that fantastical “perfect body”. Over the years, the media has molded America’s view of what the ideal body shape should be. This ideal body shape, being unhealthily thin for women and tall and muscular for men, is often unrealistic and unattainable for most people. One researcher suggested that the ideal female body presented in media images is 13-19% below average weight for women (Engeln-Maddox, 2005). Although most research concerns women, both men and women have shown negative consequences as a result of society’s ideal body image. These negative consequences include decreased body satisfaction, weight concerns, lowered self- esteem, and depression. There have been several studies suggesting a correlation between media images and negative body image perception. Several theories have been used to explain this correlation, including objectification theory, social comparison theory, and self-discrepancy theory. Colleen Woo, who examined negative effects on body satisfaction after viewing American norms of beauty and thinness, felt objectification and cultivation theory were especially pertinent to this idea. Objectification theory essentially suggests that American society objectifies the female
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body, implying that the body is a person’s most important attribute (Woo 2006). Because of this, women begin to look at their own bodies from a third person point of view (Choma 2007). Women then internalize this perspective, placing more emphasis and being more critical of their own bodies. Overall, this theory suggests women are affected negatively because of other’s judgment on their appearance rather than personality and other attributes (Woo 2006). Another study found that thin-ideal advertisements increased body dissatisfaction, levels of depression, negative mood, and lowered self-esteem. This study included social comparison and self-discrepancy theory as reasoning behind this link. Social comparison theory suggests “we seek to compare ourselves to others we believe are similar to ourselves, particularly to determine our own levels of abilities and successes” (Bessenhoff, 2006). Social comparison can be downward or upward depending on the perception. Downward social comparison occurs
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301final - Media Images and their Negative effect on Body...

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