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.