, Volume 60, Issue 1-2, pp 128-141
Date: 29 Jun 2008

Media Context, Female Body Size and Perceived Realism

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Women with larger body types are underrepresented and presented negatively on television. Two experiments explored the possibility that program context, specifically the roles women play on television, may influence judgments about the realism of various women’s body types. Both experiments, one with 92 undergraduate students at a large university in the northeastern United States, and one with 69 mall patrons in the same area, found that while the body type of an actress had little effect in a domestic setting, larger women were perceived as less realistic and less likely to get a television role in a professional setting. The results have implications for how audiences judge body types and for how audiences make realism judgments.

The research reported in Experiment 1 was conducted as part of a communication class in 2004. The following students participated in the project: Rachel Brenner, Rosalinda Camacho, Katie Distler, Marissa Ericsson, Yasmin Fodil, Anthony García, Kyle Georgalas, Jessica Golden, Stephanie Kwai, Kuan-Hui Leu, Makena Mason, Sarai Mejia, Natalie Morin, Liz Pandich, Steve Reuter, Ryan Schmidt, Samantha Sichel, Sam Sinkavich, Jessica Tong, Daniel Weiner, Jessica Weir.