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Body Image and the Media: Does Ethnicity Make a Difference?

Essay by   •  March 18, 2016  •  Research Paper  •  1,611 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,018 Views

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Running Header:  BODY IMAGE AND THE MEDIA  

Body Image and the Media:  Does Ethnicity Make a Difference?

Gabriella Raji Batmani

California State University, Los Angeles

Abstract

With the limited amount of  previous research that has been done, we  tend  to see a correlation with viewing thin models and body dissatisfaction,   for this study I will be conducting a between subject design experiment in order to answer if advertisements in magazines, Hispanic fitness models or Caucasian runway models, increase body dissatisfaction in women.  I will be using a Body Image Satisfaction Scale, Weight Influence Self Esteem Scale and An Upward Appearance Comparison Scale to measure participants.  Participants will consist of 70 female undergraduates, 20 -25 years old, randomly selected from California State University, Los Angeles.    

Keywords:  Media, Body Dissatisfaction, Advertisements

Body Image and the Media: Does Ethnicity make a difference?

A majority of models that appear on television or in advertisements are well below average weight and have beauty standards that are unlikely to be achieved by most women (Sedar, 2010).  These beauty standards, that are increasing regularly, have drastic impacts on young women and the way they view their body.  Body ideals have seen to be shaped by what is surrounding us in the media.  Young women's body image and moods are affected negatively by the exposure to beautiful and thin women in the media and advertisements (Yamamiya, Cash, 2004).  The media often encourages women that they can and should be thin by diet, exercise or surgery.  We are constantly being pushed with this idea that appearing any different then what the media exposes, is simply not good enough.  An Australian magazine, New Woman, included a picture of a heavy set model as their cover; while readers praised them from their bold move, advertisers were disappointed and complained.  The magazine then quickly returned to the thin models (Webster, 2007).  Today an average model weighs 23% below average weight, while twenty years ago it was only 8% below body weight (Ramsey, Thaomsana, & Xu, 2013).  

Body Image in the Media

        Researchers Owen and Spencer (2012) conducted an experiment to test out their hypothesis that viewing a slideshow of images of healthy weight models would increase the participant’s ideal body image compared to viewing a slideshow of thin models.  For this experiment, researchers used 44 participants in a within subject design using a Body Self Questionnaire, Rosenberg Scale, Visual Analog Scale and a Body Assessment Software (BAS).  Participants were shown a slideshow of 5 models, either healthy weight or thin depending on what group they were placed in, and after viewing the slideshow their height and weight were measured and inputted into the BAS.  Participants were now able to control their body image in the BAS and form it to their ideal form.  Owen and Spencer (2012) did find that participants had a positive affect after viewing the slideshow of the healthy weight model. We must also consider the sample size of this study was on the smaller side meaning it cannot generalize well with the rest of society.  However, their findings were consistent with previous research that has been linked to thin models and body dissatisfaction.  There has been a limitation on the amount of research that has had an impact on viewing healthy weights models.  

Researchers Galioto and Crowther (2012) conducted an experiment comparing the effects of muscular male bodies to slender males as portrayed in the media.  They hypothesized that exposure to a muscular model would increase body dissatisfaction in males compared to a slender model.  Researchers used the State Self Esteem Scale, Sociocultural Attitudes toward Appearance Questionnaire, Physical Appearance Comparison Scale to measure their participants.  They recruited 111 undergraduates’ males and randomly assigned them to one of three conditions; slender, muscular or controlled.  Researchers did find that both muscular and slender model produced an increase in body dissatisfaction for the participants.  Males in the muscular condition did not produce an increase in body dissatisfaction compared to male participants in the slender group, which the researchers found to be surprisingly.   Researchers originally hypothesized that males in the muscular condition would have an increase in body dissatisfaction for the simple fact that generally males tends to idolized males that are bigger than they.  There has been a gap in the amount of research done that examines the impact of both muscular and slender images in the media on males.

For my present study, I will be conducting a between subject design with 70 female undergraduates randomly selected from various major departments from California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA).  Participants all reported no history of mental illness or injuries and were between the ages of 20 -25 years old.  My research will be intended to answer if advertisements in magazines, either being Hispanic and fit or Caucasian and thin, affect women’s body dissatisfaction.  I hypothesized that participants will show an increase in body dissatisfaction after viewing either a Latina model or Caucasian model, but do believe the Caucasian model will show a much more significant level of body dissatisfaction.  

Measures

 The Body Image Satisfaction Scale is a test that measures four items using a 6 point scale; 1 = Does not Apply to 6 = Applies Exactly.  The four items on this scale are;  I would like to change a good deal about my body, by and large, I am satisfied with my looks, I would like to change a good deal about my looks and by and large, I am satisfied with my body (Holsen, Jones & Birkeland, 2012).  

A Weight Influence Self Esteem Questionnaire will be used and will consist of 20 questions that touch base with topics such as appearance, attractiveness and the influence others have on one another. This test will be measured by a 5 point Likert Scale which ranges from 1 (not at all) to 5 (extremely).  Each question after receiving an answer will be scored by points; not at all (0 points), somewhat (2 points), or extremely (4 points).  Then the score is divided by the total number of questions on the survey, 20 (Trottier, McFarlane, Olmsted & McCabe, 2012).

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