Weight information labels on media models reduce body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

PURPOSE: To examine how weight information labels on variously sized media models affect (pre)adolescent girls' body perceptions and how they compare themselves with media models.

METHODS: We used a three (body shape: extremely thin vs. thin vs. normal weight) × three (information label: 6-kg underweight vs. 3-kg underweight vs. normal weight) experimental design in three age-groups (9-10 years, 12-13 years, and 15-16 years; n = 184). The girls completed questionnaires after exposure to media models.

RESULTS: Weight information labels affected girls' body dissatisfaction, social comparison with media figures, and objectified body consciousness. Respondents exposed to an extremely thin body shape labeled to be of "normal weight" were most dissatisfied with their own bodies and showed highest levels of objectified body consciousness and comparison with media figures. An extremely thin body shape combined with a corresponding label (i.e., 6-kg underweight), however, induced less body dissatisfaction and less comparison with the media model. Age differences were also found to affect body perceptions: adolescent girls showed more negative body perceptions than preadolescents.

CONCLUSIONS: Weight information labels may counteract the generally media-induced thin-body ideal. That is, when the weight labels appropriately informed the respondents about the actual thinness of the media model's body shape, girls were less affected. Weight information labels also instigated a normalization effect when a "normal-weight" label was attached to underweight-sized media models. Presenting underweight as a normal body shape, clearly increased body dissatisfaction in girls. Results also suggest age between preadolescence and adolescence as a critical criterion in responding to media models' body shape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)600-606
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume50
Issue number6
Early online date7 Mar 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Awareness
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Esthetics
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior
  • Intention
  • Internal-External Control
  • Mass Media
  • Periodicals as Topic
  • Reference Values
  • Research
  • Social Desirability
  • Social Marketing
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinness
  • Journal Article

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