Body Image: A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice

By Thomas F. Cash; Thomas Pruzinsky | Go to book overview

11
Media Influences
on Body Image Development

MARIKA TIGGEMANN

The mass media pervade the everyday lives of people living in Western societies. Most adults read newspapers daily, and magazines have huge circulations. Media surveys indicate that fashion magazines, in particular, are read by the majority of women and girls (estimates up to 83%). Virtually every home has a television set, switched on for an average of 7 hours per day, with individuals each watching 3 or 4 hours. Over a year, children and adolescents spend more time watching television than in any activity other than sleeping. Such high consumption is likely to affect the consumers in some way. This chapter describes the influences of various media on body image development and difficulties.


AVENUES OF INFLUENCE

Media Content

There is no doubt that current societal standards for female beauty inordinately emphasize the desirability of thinness—and thinness at a level that is impossible for most women to achieve by healthy means. In their pervasiveness, the mass media are powerful conveyors of this sociocultural ideal. A casual flick through any fashion magazine reveals a preponderance of young, tall, long-legged, and extremely thin women. Formal content analyses of visual media document this trend toward thinness in all of women's magazines, film, and television (including children's television). It has been argued that this media presentation of thin images as the ideal is a major

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