Body Image and Magazines:

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Sleek, skinny models staring at you on the pages of beauty and fashion magazines can play a starring role in how you feel about your body.  True or false?  Body image, magazines, and depression are somehow intertwined.  True or false?  You can improve your feelings about your body by limiting the time spent looking at beauty and fashion magazines.  True or false?

I’ve just pored over some of the scholarly research on this subject, and many researchers’ findings are that:

  • The American “ideal body type” for a woman has decreased significantly in weight since the 1940’s, with a drastic decrease after 1979.

Marilyn Monroe

                              TwiggyTwiggy

  • The measurements of the “ideal body type” have become much more straight.  A flatter bust and larger waist is much more prevalent than it was decades ago, with the most drastic shift after 1979.
  • We are flooded with these images.  Most Americans will see over 250,000 ads depicting the “ideal body type” by the age of seventeen.
  • Most researchers see a profound relationship between the degree of dissatisfaction with one’s body and the amount of time spent looking at beauty and fashion magazines.  However, some researchers don’t see a difference unless the person had a negative body image to begin with.

In the studies I read, I saw a variable which may have a significant impact but which was not measured.  I think it confounds the results.  That is, we are unable to measure the saturation with such media before the experiments.  So the researchers are assuming that it all would level out.  Obviously this type of research would be exceptionally difficult to conduct.

Some studies suggest that after women look at beauty and fashion magazines for ten minutes, they feel somewhat depressed.  Saturating ourselves with ultra-thin model images takes a toll on how we feel about ourselves.  Or do you disagree?