Sex Roles

, Volume 14, Issue 9–10, pp 519–532 | Cite as

The role of the mass media in promoting a thin standard of bodily attractiveness for women

  • Brett Silverstein
  • Lauren Perdue
  • Barbara Peterson
  • Eileen Kelly

Abstract

Eating disorders appear to be more common among women than among men and more common now than they were in the past. Recent speculation has focused upon the role played by an unrealistically thin standard of bodily attractiveness for women in the promotion of these disorders. To demonstrate that this standard does play such a role, and to implicate the mass media in the promotion of this standard, it is first necessary to demonstrate that the current standard of attractiveness for women portrayed in the media is slimmer than that for men, that the portrayed standard is slimmer now than it has been in the past, and that these findings apply to many of the major media. The four studies presented here demonstrate that the current standard of attractiveness portrayed on television and in magazines is slimmer for women than for men and that the recent standard for women portrayed in magazines and in movies is slimmer than it was in the past.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bennett, W., & Gurin, J. The dieter's dilemma. New York: Basic Books, 1982.Google Scholar
  2. Chernin, K. The obsession: Reflections on the tyranny of slenderness. New York: Harper & Row, 1981.Google Scholar
  3. Druss, V., & Henifin, M. S. Why are so many anorexics women? In R. Hubbard & M. S. Henifin (Eds.), Women looking at biology looking at women: A collection of feminist critiques. Cambridge: Schenkman, 1979.Google Scholar
  4. Garner, D. M., Garfinkel, P. E., Schwartz, D., & Thompson, M. Cultural exceptations of thinness in women. Psychological Reports, 1980, 47, 483–491.Google Scholar
  5. Herman, C. P., & Polivy, J. Restrained eating. In A. J. Stunkard (Ed.), Obesity. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders, 1980.Google Scholar
  6. Kaplan, J. R. (Ed.). A woman's conflict: The special relationship between women and food. New York: Prentice Hall, 1980.Google Scholar
  7. Orbach, S. Fat is a feminist issue. New York: Paddington Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  8. Polivy, J., & Herman, C. P. Breaking the diet habit. New York: Basic Books, 1983.Google Scholar
  9. Silverstein, B., Peterson, B., & Perdue, L. Some correlates of the thin standard of bodily attractiveness for women. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 1986, 5(5).Google Scholar
  10. Steinberg, C. Film Facts (pp. 57–61). New York: Fact on File, 1980.Google Scholar
  11. Stunkard, A. J., Levine, H., & Fox, S. The management of obesity: Patient self-help and medical treatment. Archives of Internal Medicine, 1970, 125, 1367–1373.Google Scholar
  12. Van Itallie, T. Diet related to killer diseases — Obesity. Testimony before the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs. U.S. Senate, 95th Congress, First Session, February 1 and 2, 1977.Google Scholar
  13. Wooley, O. W., & Wooley, S. C. The Beverly Hills eating disorder: The mass marketing of anorexia nervosa. International Journal of Eating Disroders, 1982, 1, 57–69.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brett Silverstein
    • 1
  • Lauren Perdue
    • 2
  • Barbara Peterson
    • 2
  • Eileen Kelly
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCity College of New YorkNew York
  2. 2.State University of New York at Stony BrookUSA

Personalised recommendations