1. The study of “The effect of the thin body ideal in a media-naive population” by Jean-Luc Jucker, Tracet Thornborrow, Lynda Boothroyd, Martin Tovee.
“The effect of the thin body ideal in a media-naive population” is a recent study about media effect on people. This study by researchers from the UK was conducted not only in Western countries, where people live surrounded by mass media but also in villages of Nicaragua and Central America.How was the study conducted?Scientists have interviewed 80 people from two villages in Nicaragua. Psychologists specifically used a sample of people older than 16 years old, who were not exposed to TV or internet a lot.Participants were divided into two groups of 40 people and asked them to make a computer model of the woman with the ideal body using specialised computer software.This computer application had models with different skin colours and different body types, and by clicking on the arrows, the participant could change the weight of the virtual woman. Before the experiment participants were told that there are no right or wrong answers.
After that, participants were shown a couple of photos from British fashion magazines: in the first group women on those photos were thin (XXS-XS), in a second group, they were shown photos featuring plus-size models ( L to BXL). This stage of the experiment lasted only 15 minutes.Afterwards, participants were asked to make a model of the perfect woman in the computer once again.ResultsThis study has shown that even 15 minutes exposure to media has changed the beliefs of the participants about beauty standards.In every group after the exposure to photos, ideal woman models created by the participants looked more like models on the photos that they were shown.
In the first group computer models became thinner, in the second they became larger. The only thing which was not found is how long this effect lasts.This study shows how much media affects women and how powerful it can be in changing the stereotypes. Therefore, I think this research is an ideal example for my research. The main point that can be concluded from this study is that mass media makes women less healthy. Numerous photos of thin women, photo shopped magazine covers, flawless celebrities on red carpets – all of these do affect women unconsciously. 2. Studies of different nature about women look in mass media affecting average women satisfaction with their bodies.
Why do we talk more about women being affected that men?Lanis and Covell (Lanis & Covell, 1995) write that in North American culture starting from 1970s women started to appear in adverts as sexual objects. Women very rarely have actual relationship or link to the products that are being advertised, and they only appear there because of their physical attractiveness. For example, adverts where a woman is lying on the car with a bottle of champagne in her hands, she does not drive the car, advertisers put her there because of her sexual look.Another study has shown that women often feel inadequate when they try to compare themselves to appearances of models in media (Kilbourne,1999). They are unhappy with their bodies, hair, teeth, weight and height (Jackson, 1992; Wolf, 1991). Of course, this experiment does not say that adverts become the reason for food disorders in women. However, women look in adverts do irritate average women.
As Kilbourne (Kilbourne, 1999) noted, adverts create unhealthy beliefs in women about food and their attractiveness.Statistics show that a significant number of teenage girls think that they are fat; in contrast, boys rarely feel this way. Dyer and Tiggermann write that teenage girls believe that they need to stop healthy physical changes in teenage years, especially change in location of body fat. Therefore they often start dieting in an unhealthy way (Dyer & Tiggermann, 1996; Pipher, 1994).Another group of researchers say that girls and women are prone to put themselves at physical risks to rich their ideal look (Fallon, Katzman & Wooley, 1994; Wiederman & Pryor, 2000). Because there is so much emphasis on the appearance and perceived “beauty” of women nowadays, there is nothing weird about women seeking to have young and “beautiful” body.
One of the main ways to achieve this standard is to lose weight. Therefore, women continuously diet, go to the gym and try to look like “a model”: they try to become blondes on the edge of depletion. (Kempa & Thomas, 2000; Striegel-Moore & Smolak, 2000; Thompson, Sargent & Kemper, 1996). Why women harm themselves trying to gain societies’ acceptance? The answer to this question is the link between the success and femininity. For example, Brett Silverstein and his colleagues (Silverstein, Perdue, Wolf & Pizzolo, 1998) noted that some forms of food disorders are formed because of women’s beliefs that intellectual and professional success of women is their disadvantage rather than an advantage.
Psychologists Linda Jackson, Linda Sullivan and Ronald Rostker, used an original “Body-Self-Relation-Questionnaire about a relation of “self” and “body”. They found that women put much emphasis on their physical appearance (Jackson, Sullivan & Rostker, 1988).Many women think that their excess weight turns away their friends, especially males and sexual partners. Some psychologists say that people think negatively about overweight women (Rothblum, 1992). Rothblum evaluated research papers about attitude towards women with excess weight and found that 1) college students think that overweight women are less active, smart, successful and popular than skinny women 2) when students were asked to rate people as possible partners in marriage, they answered that they would rather marry a person on drugs or a thief than a fat woman; 3) house owners rarely rent their homes to overweight women.
Another research (Ferron, 1997) found and proved that American teenage girls more often than French teenagers believe that they can achieve a “beauty” standard. At the same time, Ferron notes that American girls much more often then French put harmed themselves, followed crazy diets and suffered from food disorders. Again, most of the teenage boys both in France and America were happy with their bodies.
If women try to rich a physical “beauty” in frames of media and men’s perception than most likely, they will harm their health(Davis, Claridge & Fox, 2000: Wiederman & Pryor, 2000). All this research states that media showing and portraying “beauty” standards are harmful to women in all sorts of ways and this situation needs to be changed.