Negative Effects of Media Images

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
May/June 1999 Volume 10, Number 3
©1999 Gürze Books

Female fashion models apparently do more than stir envy among women. Their images can actually lead to anger and depressed mood.

University of Toronto researchers set up a unique experiment to gauge the effect of media images upon women (Int J Eat Disord 25:223, 1999). A group of 118 female anthropology students first completed a series of questionnaires, including the Eating Disorders Inventory (EDI), the Profile of Mood States (POMS), and the Body Parts Satisfaction Scale (BPSS), which measures one’s satisfaction with 24 body parts. Finally, they filled out the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, a 10-item measure of self-esteem.

One week later, members of one class were shown a series of 20 slides containing full-body images of women models taken from 6 popular women’s magazines, far fewer than are typically seen in a single women’s magazine. Members of the other class (controls) were shown images that contained no pictures of people. Immediately afterward, they again completed the POMS and BPSS. All were blinded to the purpose of the study.

Viewing the female models certainly did not lift the spirits of the experimental group; instead, the anger and hostility scales were higher for members of the experimental group than for the controls. Women with higher scores on the EDI responded with greater anger to the slides of the fashion models.

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