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Effect of Thin vs. Plus-Size Models: A Comparison of Body Image Ideals by Gender
Unformatted Document Text:  Ideal Body Image, 4 correlations between media consumption patterns, body dissatisfaction, and eating disorder symptoms (Botta, 1999, 2000; Harrison, 2000; Harrison & Cantor, 1997). The etiology of eating disorders, however, is not quite clear. To account for a range of factors, from social level variables to more specific biological variables, Polivy and Herman (2002) advance a biopsychosocial model. But eating disorders are limited to 3% of the population (NIMH, 1994). Although this incidence rate is cause for concern, the normative worry about weight and body dissatisfaction in the broader population, stemming from a thin social norm, is the focus of this study. To account for this pervasive body dissatisfaction in society, researchers (Stice and Shaw, 1994; Silverstein, et. al., 1988) have offered a sociocultural model. In the sociocultural context, it is assumed that the media play a key role in setting the normative standards for thinness, attractiveness, and beauty. But how are the norms offered by the media internalized and eventually endorsed by society as a social norm? To address this question, in this paper we examine the impact of media on the perceptions of individual and social ideals of the female body shape. The construction of social norms of ideal body shape are likely to be influenced by the norms held by the same sex as well as norms held by the opposite sex. Hence, men’s perceptions of ideal female body shape should be factored into the social construction of the female ideal. Similarly, women’s perceptions of the ideal male form should be considered when evaluating social norms of attractiveness among men. Men’s perceptions of ideal female form is particularly relevant in light of recent efforts to introduce average size women as models. Although this trend is more evident in magazines and catalogs targeted toward plus-size women, to some extent the success of

Authors: Prabu, David., Liu, Kaiya. and Cortese, Juliann.
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Ideal Body Image, 4
correlations between media consumption patterns, body dissatisfaction, and eating
disorder symptoms (Botta, 1999, 2000; Harrison, 2000; Harrison & Cantor, 1997).
The etiology of eating disorders, however, is not quite clear. To account for a
range of factors, from social level variables to more specific biological variables, Polivy
and Herman (2002) advance a biopsychosocial model. But eating disorders are limited to
3% of the population (NIMH, 1994). Although this incidence rate is cause for concern,
the normative worry about weight and body dissatisfaction in the broader population,
stemming from a thin social norm, is the focus of this study. To account for this pervasive
body dissatisfaction in society, researchers (Stice and Shaw, 1994; Silverstein, et. al.,
1988) have offered a sociocultural model.
In the sociocultural context, it is assumed that the media play a key role in setting
the normative standards for thinness, attractiveness, and beauty. But how are the norms
offered by the media internalized and eventually endorsed by society as a social norm?
To address this question, in this paper we examine the impact of media on the perceptions
of individual and social ideals of the female body shape.
The construction of social norms of ideal body shape are likely to be influenced
by the norms held by the same sex as well as norms held by the opposite sex. Hence,
men’s perceptions of ideal female body shape should be factored into the social
construction of the female ideal. Similarly, women’s perceptions of the ideal male form
should be considered when evaluating social norms of attractiveness among men. Men’s
perceptions of ideal female form is particularly relevant in light of recent efforts to
introduce average size women as models. Although this trend is more evident in
magazines and catalogs targeted toward plus-size women, to some extent the success of


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