Media's Portrayal of an "Ideal" Body Image: Consequences for Young Women's Body Satisfaction and Self-Esteem

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Hemberger, Sarah
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Western Illinois University
Media's portrayal of women, particularly body size and shape, has drastically changed over the past decades, which may be a contributing factor in lower body satisfaction and self-esteem in adolescent females. This study examines the relationship between mass media's portrayal of an ideal body image and the ratings of young adolescent and older adolescent females' body satisfaction and self-esteem. The motivation used for reading magazines was examined as well as a number of beauty and fashion magazines read. A total of 49 young adolescent females (ages 10-14) and 71 older adolescent females (ages 18-22) were given four questionnaires: demographics questionnaire, reading motivations questionnaire, Body Parts Satisfaction Scale, and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Results suggest that those who reported using self-evaluation as a reading motivation had lower scores on self-reports of body satisfaction and self-esteem. Young adolescent females do not use self-evaluation as a reading motivation more often than older adolescent females. However, older adolescent females reported using self-improvement more often. Young adolescent females reported higher satisfaction with body image and more self-esteem than older adolescent females. These results suggest that young adolescents do not have lower body satisfaction and self-esteem than older adolescents. However, using self-evaluation to read beauty and fashion magazines can negatively affect body satisfaction and self-esteem. This information can help adolescents learn how to use media for comparison in a way that does not affect body satisfaction or self-esteem. It can also influence the media to be concerned about the effects on the current ideal image of adolescents' body satisfaction.
Honors Undergraduate Thesis; Department of Psychology