Oct. 31, 2006 (Medical News Today)
New research explores the relationship between so called "thin-ideal" images in the media and body-image issues among young women. Female undergraduates who viewed advertisements displaying ultra-thin women exhibited increases in body dissatisfaction, negative mood, levels of depression and lowered self-esteem. These findings were particularly true for women who have negative views of their current body image and believe themselves to be overweight.
The study shows that women who possess these body image concerns are twice as likely to compare their own bodies to those of the thin models in the advertisements. They are also more likely to have those comparisons affect their self-worth, leading to feelings of depression, body dissatisfaction and preoccupation with diet and exercise. Conversely, women who are content with their bodies did not show any effects from viewing thin-ideal advertisements.
"Women who already have low opinions of their physical appearance are at an even greater risk for negative effects from media images," says Gayle R. Bessenoff, Ph.D., author of the study. "Understanding who will compare to media ideals and when this comparison will take place can help further our understanding of the role of the media in the development of eating disorders."
This study is published in the current issue of Psychology of Women Quarterly.
Gayle R. Bessenoff, Ph.D., a professor in the Psychology Department of the University of Connecticut and has more than 7 years of research experience in the fields of social comparison, body image and women in the media.