Body Image Analysis

Body image is a topic frequently debated within the media. Society has deliberately created a body ideal which women are expected to meet. This has been seen within the media since the early 1900s and has continued to develop as society’s views changed and technological developments prevailed. Hawkins et al. recognises “There is evidence that the thin-ideal woman depicted in the media has become significantly thinner over the last several decades, increasing the discrepancy for the average woman, making the ideal even more difficult to attain.”

The journal article “The Impact of Exposure to the Thin-Ideal Media Image on Women” explores the notion of body image and the negative impact it has created for women. The piece is thoroughly researched and incorporates a variety of credible sources to reinforce findings. Hawkins et al. highlights the connection between the media and eating disorders, analysing a variety of theorists and past findings, “Theorists have argued that this image, combined with our culture’s intense focus on dieting, has contributed to the current epidemic of eating disorders (Akan & Grilo, 1995; Davis & Yager, 1992; Kiemle, Slade, & Dewey, 1987; Silverstein et al., 1986; Stice, Schupak-Neuberg, Shaw, & Stein, 1994).”

To further enhance their findings, Hawkins et al. decided to undertake primary research, recruiting a group of 150 female college students. The participants were given 40 advertisements to observe, one section was based on the ‘thin-ideal’ while the others had no association with body image but rather materialistic goods. The advertisements were then placed in categories associated with their effect such as body dissatisfaction and self-esteem, their findings concluded women who had been exposed to the thin-ideal had an increase in body dissatisfaction as opposed to those in a controlled environment.

To reinforce their findings they also supplemented past research to ensure authenticity and indicate the lack of change in society’s perceptions and actions with this continuing issue. “This finding is partially consistent with the results of a study by Stice and Shaw (1994), which found a weak relationship between the thin-ideal and depression but no relationship between the thin-ideal and anxiety. Our study provided evidence that exposure to thin-ideal images may produce a variety of negative emotions in women, including anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion.”

Their results suggested that the relationship between socio-cultural attitudes and eating disorders is far more complex than first anticipated, with this conclusion it is much harder for the researcher to predominantly blame the media for eating disorders as there are numerous factors to take into account which they haven’t considered like mental health, socio-economic background, upbringing and current living arrangements. When focusing on an epidemic as globalised and publicised as bulimia and eating disorders in general it is important to research other contributing factors instead of purely basing it on one area which can give a false perception that this is primarily the reason for the occurrence.

Overall the journal article is thoroughly researched authenticating the findings and results. The piece focused on eating disorders but lacked medical facts and figures that produce a direct association between the media and eating disorders, rather it’s just based on research with participants in case studies which can affect the reliability of the piece. Furthermore not exploring other issues associated with eating disorder reinforces this, however the overall text is relatively consistent and is fundamental basis when researching this topic.

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7 thoughts on “Body Image Analysis

  1. Nice post! I agree that seeing images of very thin girls can lead to dissatisfaction with our own bodies. Nowadays with access to social media such as Instagram, Facebook or Twitter at our fingertips we are being inundated by these negative images. It leads to the question of whether these social media platforms will try to do anything to stop these images of people with unattainable bodies flooding our newsfeeds and making young girls and boys feel bad about themselves.

  2. The media is saturated with these unattainable ideals of what we should look like, and it’s so detrimental to our self-esteem and body image issues, especially in young teenagers who are extremely susceptible to this physical critique, and therefore may be subject to eating disorders that ‘help’ them achieve these ‘body goals’.
    It is interesting to see this sort of research being done, and being taken as a serious issue in society by academics.
    Getting the research information straight from the source, from the people it directly affect is a great way to emphasise the esteem issues society holds, and the need to change the norm that ‘thin is in’ etc.
    Great blog post!

  3. Truly engaging piece! I find it interesting that it has been scientifically proven that the exposure of women to thin-ideal images has been proven to be a cause of a number of negative emotions in women e.g. anxiety, depression and anger. I think that research could also be extended to males who i predict suffer the same emotions in regards to body image ideals within the media. There is a pressure on males to be masculine, muscular and fit and i think that the desire to have a perfectly sculpted body is consistent within the majority of male youth. I think that is just as dangerous as thin-ideal images, if not the same and should be considered particularly in regards to steroid abuse etc. Good Job!

  4. Truly engaging piece! I find it interesting that it has been scientifically proven that the exposure of women to thin-ideal images is a cause of a number of negative emotions in women e.g. anxiety, depression and anger. I think that research could also be extended to males who I predict suffer the same emotions in regards to body image ideals within the media. There is a pressure on males to be masculine, muscular and fit and I think that the desire to have a perfectly sculpted body is consistent within the majority of male youth. I think that it would be just as dangerous as thin-ideal images, if not the same and should be considered in research, particularly in regards to steroid abuse etc. Good Job!

  5. I really enjoyed this post! For several reasons, one of which is that this is such a relevant issue to focus on; the media has gotten it so wrong when it comes to publishing images of the “ideal” body shape and I’m glad you’ve decided to look at this topic in-depth. I was interested to see that the journal article you analysed had so much research into this topic which often isn’t looked into that far. Often the media just focuses on the problem without any in-depth analysis or quantitative research to support these claims. I found that your analysis of this article was really well thought through, you’ve got a great range of sources and your writing style is extremely polished and professional, well done!

  6. Thank you everyone for your comments, i definitely agree with all the points you’ve made. For our research project we are extending our questions to males as well because they’re just as important when researching body image. The accessibility of accessing these images has also increased as mentioned with Twitter and Facebook something my group is also going to explore, as this is an important aspect when comparing views and effects on body image from the past. Thank you for all your feedback guys I appreciate it! 🙂

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