The Media’s Representation and Influence of Body Image Amongst Young People’

Topics: Female body shape, Body shape, Body image Pages: 72 (14414 words) Published: April 16, 2013
‘The Media’s Representation and Influence of Body Image
Amongst Young People’

By Salma Alwad
BSc Sociology and Media Studies
Final Year Dissertation Project
City University

City University
School of Social Sciences
Date of Submission – 23rd April 2007

Contents

List of illustrations
Acknowledgment
Abstract

ii
iii
iv

1 – Introduction

page 1

2 – Literature Review Chapter

page 4

3 – Methods Chapter

page 17

4- Findings Chapter

page 26

5 – Conclusion

page 39

Appendix
Bibliography

page 44
page 63

i

Illustrations

Plates
1 - Rembrandt van Rijin, ‘Bathsheba’ (1654)
2- Flapper Fashion (1920s)
3- Marilyn Monroe (1950)
4- Twiggy (1960)
5- Kate Moss (1990s)
6- Sandro Botticelli (1974) – ‘St Sebastian’
7- Signorelli’s (1503) – ‘Study of two nude figures’ 8- Dolph Lundgren (1990’s)
9- Russell Brand (2006) ‘Male Waif’

ii

Acknowledgement

I would like to take this opportunity to give thanks to all the respondents who agreed to take part in this investigation and completed questionnaires, thank you to all the staff and children at Islington Play-scheme and the students of City and Islington College. I would also like to thank my project mentor Mr Petros Iosifidis for all his time and assistance. Most of all I would like to thank all my friends and family for their consistent encouragement and support given to me throughout my university life. I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to study at university and fulfilling my dream of becoming a graduate.

iii

Abstract

Glamour, Vogue, Bliss and Cosmopolitan are just some of the few magazines responsible for ‘pumping’ the continuous stereotypical ideal of the ‘perfect body’. Slim toned body, perfect facial features, great hair and teeth and most importantly ‘good’ bums and boobs – these are just some of the ideals that women and girls are encouraged to attain by the media. But more recently this pressure to ‘conform’ has also been felt amongst young men who are encouraged to attain more muscular toned bodies. Endless television commercials, films, advertisements, magazines and newspapers constantly churn out images of the ‘beautiful people’, their beauty is made to look effortless and easily achievable – but for the average man and women who don’t have a team of people working around them ensuring they are ‘perfect’ at every moment, the ideal is unattainable.

This thesis will consider attitudes towards the media’s portrayal of the archetypal body image, and consider the effects these ideals have on young people. This investigation is intended to provide some fresh research material which will help further asses attitudes towards the media’s concept of the idealised body image and consider viewpoints from the demographic it affects most – adolescents.

iv

Salma Alwad

Dissertation Project

Introduction

“Ours is an age obsessed with youth, health and physical beauty. Television and motion pictures, the dominant visual media, churn out persistent reminders that the lithe and graceful body, the dimpled smile set in an attractive face, are the keys to happiness, perhaps even its essence” (Kern 1975 cited in Featherstone 1991).

It cannot be contested that we live in a highly mediated society; and are constantly exposed to vast amounts of media messages, the most prominent of these messages being the representation of the ‘perfect body image’. Magazines, newspapers and television are replete with images of the ideal body image and include features on cosmetic surgery and effective dieting. All this exposure by the media helps demonstrate to consumers what they should look like and aim to strive for, whether it is the attainment of the hourglass slender figure for women, or the toned muscular figure for men.

The objective of my investigation is to examine attitudes towards the media’s portrayal of the archetypal body image amongst young people. I wish to uncover the...

Bibliography: Bryman, A. (2004) “Social Research Methods” Second Edition
England: Oxford University Press
Cash, T and Pruzinsky, T (2002) “Body Image: A Handbook of theory, research and
clinical practice” The Guilford Press New York
Corson, P and Andersen, A (2002) ch. 22 in Cash, T and Pruzinsky, T (2002) “Body
Image: A Handbook of theory, research and clinical practice” The Guilford Press
New York
Davis, C (1997) ch.6 “Body image, exercise and eating behaviours” in Fox, K “The
Physical Self – From Motivation to well – Being” Human Kinetics
Featherstone, M (1991) – ch.6 “The Body in Consumer Culture” in Featherstone, M,
Gilbert, K (1998) – ch. 4 “The Body, Young Children and Popular Culture” in
Yelland, N “Gender in Early Childhood” Routledge
Garner, D (2002) ch.34 in Cash, T and Pruzinsky, T (2002) “Body Image: A
Handbook of theory, research and clinical practice” The Guilford Press New York
Dissertation Project
Grogan, S (1999) “Body Image: Understanding body dissatisfaction in men, women
and children” Routledge
Levine, M and Smolak, L (2002) ch
Moore, R and Franko, D (2002) ch. 21 in Cash, T and Pruzinsky, T (2002) “Body
Image: A Handbook of theory, research and clinical practice” The Guilford Press
New York
Phillips, K (2002) ch.36 in Cash, T and Pruzinsky, T (2002) “Body Image: A
Handbook of theory, research and clinical practice” The Guilford Press New York
Shilling, C (1993) – “The Body and Social Theory” Sage Publications
Sarwer, D (2002) ch.48 in Cash, T and Pruzinsky, T (2002) “Body Image: A
Handbook of theory, research and clinical practice” The Guilford Press New York
Smolak, L (2002) ch. 8 in Cash, T and Pruzinsky, T (2002) “Body Image: A
Handbook of theory, research and clinical practice” The Guilford Press New York
Tiggemann, M (2002) ch.11 in Cash, T and Pruzinsky, T (2002) “Body Image: A
Handbook of theory, research and clinical practice” The Guilford Press New York
Illustrations
Rembrandt van Rijin, Bathsheba (1654) (Plate 1)
Source: http://www.kunstreplik.de/images/product_images/info_images/437.jpg
Flapper Fashion (1920s) (Plate 2)
Source: http://www.rambova.com/fashion/fash4.html
Marilyn Monroe (1950) (Plate 3)
Source: http://vrlab.epfl.ch/~thalmann/marilyn.jpg
Twiggy (1960) (Plate 4)
Source: http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e208/carnaby/twiggy.jpg
Kate Moss (1990s) (Plate 5)
Source: http://entimg.msn.com/i/gal/KateMoss/K_Moss_0634096_400.jpg
Sandro Botticelli (1974) – ‘St Sebastian’ (Plate 6)
jpg
Dolph Lundgren (1990’s) (Plate 8)
Russell Brand (2006) ‘Male Waif’ (Plate 9)
Source: http://www.thedeco.co.uk/downloads%5CRussell_Brand_10.JPG
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