The Effects of Media on Body Image and Body Dissatisfaction.

Topics: Gender, Female, Male Pages: 10 (3581 words) Published: May 5, 2013
The current study looked to find out whether there were higher numbers of unrealistic adverts in relation to body image in the media than realistic. Also, whether or not there were a higher number of unrealistic adverts in female media in relation to body image than in male media. This was carried out by looking at a number of adverts in different male and female health magazines and scoring the amount of unrealistic or realistic adverts found. The results found that there was no significant difference between the amounts of unrealistic/ realistic adverts on body image in the female magazines compared to the male magazines. On the other hand, the results showed a significant difference between the amount of unrealistic images shown in the magazines compared to the amount of realistic images. . These findings suggest that the media does portray a lot more unrealistic images which could be a main cause of body dissatisfaction. However, the fact that it is more common to assume women have more issues with body dissatisfaction and that unrealistic images of females are portrayed more in the media seems to be incorrect.

The media is such a large part of our environment. We are exposed to media everywhere we go. A lot more of the media is starting to focus on body image, and what the ‘perfect’ body image is. This could obviously be having a major effect on people and change what they perceive to be the ‘perfect’ figure. It could also cause a lot of discomfort and a have a negative impact for the people being exposed to this media as in most cases the people exposed to this media will not have this unrealistic body image portrayed to be the norm. This could lead to serious consequences for people, a major consequence being either depression or an eating disorder. It is believed eating disorders have the highest death rate of any illness. As many as one woman in 20 will have worrying eating habits; most will be aged 14 to 25 years old. According to one of the leading sites which deals with mental health problems called [1] Furthermore, a study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders stated that 5 – 10% of anorexics die within ten years of contracting the disease, 18-20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30 – 40% ever fully recover. The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of all causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old. Finally 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems, [2] These statistics alone give an insight of how serious eating disorders are and how they can affect people’s lives. Therefore, if the media is having an effect on what people perceive to be the ‘perfect physique’ then this could be one of the main catalyst causing people to strive to have this desired physique and cause them to become ill. One reason why the media could be to blame for these statistics could be because of ‘the mere exposure theory.’ This theory claims that the more exposure we have to a stimulus, then the more we like it. This can be for any type of stimulus, such as people, animals, food etc. For example, when you first try a certain type of food you may not like it, but if you keep eating that food, your perception of this food starts to change into a positive one. The only problem with this is that after too much exposure the opposite can happen. It can become irritating for us and cause a negative perception towards the stimulus. For example if you eat too much of a certain type of food then you can start to dislike it. A lot of research has been conducted looking into the effects of media and negative feelings towards peoples own body image. One study was carried out looking at the effects of mere exposure theory. This study evaluated reward based and exposure based intervention for increasing children’s liking of unfamiliar...

References: [1] mind.2011. [online] [accessed 3rd November 2011] available from world wide web: <>
[2] South Carolina Department of Mental Health. 2006. [Online] [accessed 3rd November 2011] available from world wide web: <>
[3] Wardle, j., Herrera, M-l., Cooke, L., Gibson, EL., (2003) ‘Modifying children’s food preferences: the effects of exposure and reward on acceptance of an unfamiliar vegetable.’ European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol.57, pp.341-348
[4] botta, RA., (2006), Television Images and Adolescent Girls’ Body Image Disturbance. Journal of communication, vol. 49, pp 22 – 41.
[5] Hargreaves, DA., (2004) Idealized media images and adolescent body image: “comparing” boys and girls. Body Image, vol 1, pp 351-361
[6] Duggan, SJ., MCcreary, DR., (2004)) body image, eating disorders, and the drive for muscularity in gay and heterosexual men: the influence of media images. Journal of homosexuality, vol. 47, pp. 45 – 58.
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