Sex Roles

, 65:478 | Cite as

Does Media Type Matter? The Role of Identification in Adolescent Girls’ Media Consumption and the Impact of Different Thin-Ideal Media on Body Image

  • Beth Teresa BellEmail author
  • Helga Dittmar
Original Article


Previous research on media exposure and body image focuses on TV and magazines, rather than the under researched types of media heavily consumed by adolescents, such as music videos. The present research, involving 199 adolescent girls (aged 14–16) from South-East England, examines girls’ media consumption (types and genres) and identification with media models, then uses an exposure experiment to investigate whether the different media formats in which ‘body perfect’ ideals are presented affects their impact on body image. “Study 1” showed that neither type nor amount of media use was related to body dissatisfaction, however media model identification was. “Study 2” demonstrated that regardless of media type, experimental exposure to the body perfect led to significantly higher body and appearance dissatisfaction, compared to control images, but primarily amongst those girls who strongly identified with media models. Theoretical and intervention implications are discussed.


Adolescent girls Media consumption Thin ideal Body dissatisfaction Body image 


  1. Aufderheide, P. (1987). Music videos: The look of sound. The Journal of Communication, 36, 57–78. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.1986.tb03039.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bell, B. T., Lawton, R., & Dittmar, H. (2007). The impact of thin models in music videos on adolescent girls’ body dissatisfaction. Body Image, 4, 137–145. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2007.02.003.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Borzekowski, D. L. G., Robinson, T. N., & Killen, J. D. (2000). Does the camera add ten pounds? Media use, perceived importance of appearance, and weight concerns among teenage girls. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 26, 36–41. doi: 10.1016/S1054-139X(99)00044-0.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cash, T. F., & Pruzinsky, T. (2002). Body images: A handbook of theory, research, and clinical practice. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  5. Cash, T. F., Fleming, E. C., Alindogan, J., Steadman, L., & Whitehead, A. (2002). Beyond body image as a trait: The development and validation of the body image states scale. Eating Disorders, 10, 103–113. doi: 10.1080/10640260290081678.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the social sciences (2nd ed.). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  7. Dittmar, H. (2005). Vulnerability factors and processes linking socio-cultural pressures and body dissatisfaction. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 24, 1081–1087. doi: jscp.2005.24.8.1081/jscp.2005.24.8.1081.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dittmar, H. (2008). Consumer culture, identity and well-being: The search for ‘good life’ and the ‘body perfect. Hove: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  9. Durkin, S. J., Paxton, S. J., & Sorbello, M. (2007). An integrative model of the impact of exposure to idealised female images on adolescent girls’ body satisfaction. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37, 1092–1117. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2007.00201.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Eisenberg, M. E., Neumark-Sztainer, D., & Paxton, S. J. (2006). Five-year change in body satisfaction among adolescents. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 61, 521–527. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2006.05.007.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. (1997). Objectification theory: Towards understanding women’s lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 173–206. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Funk, J. B., Baldacci, H. B., Pasold, T., & Baumgardner, J. (2004). Violence exposure in real-life, video games, television, movies & the internet: Is there desensitization? Journal of Adolescence, 27, 23–39. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2003.10.005.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Furnham, A., Badmin, N., & Sneade, I. (2002). Body image dissatisfaction: Gender differences in eating attitudes, self esteem, and reasons for exercise. The Journal of Psychology, 136, 581–596. doi: 10.1080/00223980209604820.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gentile, D. (2009). Pathological video-game use among youth ages 8 to 18. Psychological Science, 20, 594–602. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02340.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Grabe, S., & Hyde, S. H. (2009). Body objectification. MTV, and psychological outcomes amongst female adolescents. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39, 2840–2858. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2009.00552.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grabe, S., Ward, M. L., & Hyde, J. S. (2008). The role of the media in body image concerns among women: A meta-analysis of experimental and correlational studies. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 460–476. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.134.3.460.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Groesz, L. M., Levine, M. P., & Murnen, S. K. (2002). The effect of experimental presentation of thin media images on body satisfaction: A meta-analytic review. The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 31, 1–16. doi: 10.1002/eat.10005.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grogan, S. (2008). Body image: Understanding body dissatisfaction in men, women and children. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Halliwell, E., & Dittmar, H. E. (2006). Associations between appearance-related self-discrepancies and young women and men’s affect, body satisfaction, and emotional eating: A comparison of fixed-item and participant generated self-discrepancies. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 447–458. doi: 10.1177/0146167205284005.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Halpern, C. T. (2003). Biological influences on adolescent romantic and sexual behaviour. In P. Florsheim (Ed.), Adolescent romantic relations and sexual behavior: Theory, research, and practical implications (pp. 57–84). Erlbaum: Mahwah.Google Scholar
  21. Hargreaves, D., & Tiggeman, M. (2002). The effect of television commercials on mood and body dissatisfaction: The role of appearance schema activation. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 21, 287–308. doi: jscp.2005.24.8.1081/jscp. Scholar
  22. Harrison, K. (2001). Ourselves, our bodies: Thin ideal media, self-discrepancies, and eating disorder symptomology in adolescents. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 20, 289–323. doi: jscp.2005.24.8.1081/jscp. Scholar
  23. Hillman, J. B., & Biro, F. M. (2010). Dynamic changes of adiposity during puberty: Life may not be linear. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 47, 322–323.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hofschire, L. G., & Greenberg, B. S. (2001). Media’s impact on adolescents body dissatisfaction. In J. D. Brown & J. R. Steele (Eds.), Sexual teens, sexual media (pp. 125–149). Malwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  25. Jordan, A. B., Kramer-Golinkoff, E. K., & Strasburger, V. C. (2008). Does adolescent media use cause obesity and eating disorders? Adolescent Medicine, 19, 431–449.Google Scholar
  26. Kafai, Y., Heeter, C., & Denner, J. (2008). Beyond barbie and mortal kombat. Cambridge: MIT.Google Scholar
  27. Levine, M. P., & Murnen, S. K. (2009). “Everybody knows that mass media are/are not [pick one] a cause of eating disorders:” A critical review of evidence for a causal link between media, negative body image, and disordered eating in females. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 28, 9–42. doi: jscp.2005.24.8.1081/jscp.2009.28.1.9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lloyd, B. T. (2002). A conceptual framework for examining adolescent identity, media influence and social development. Review of General Psychology, 6, 73–91. doi: 10.1037//1089-2680.6.1.73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Murnen, S. K., Levine, M. P., Groesz, L., & Smith, J. (2007). Do fashion magazines promote body dissatisfaction in girls and women? A meta-analytic review. Paper presented at the 115th meeting of the American Psychology Association, San Francisco, CA.Google Scholar
  30. Reed, D. L., Thompson, K. J., Brannick, M. T., & Sacco, W. P. (1991). Development and validation of the Physical Appearance State and Trait Anxiety Scale (PASTAS). Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 54, 323–332. doi: 10.1016/0887-6185(91)90032-O.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ricciardelli, L., & McCabe, M. (2003). Socio-cultural and individual influences on muscle gain and weight loss strategies among adolescent boys and girls. Psychology in the Schools, 40, 209–224. doi: 10.1080/00224540309598428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Richardson, S. M., Paxton, S. J., & Thompson, J. S. (2009). Is BodyThink an efficacious body image and self-esteem program? A controlled evaluation with adolescents. Body Image, 6, 75–82. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2008.11.001.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Roberts, D. F., Christensen, P. G., Singer, D. G., & Singer, J. L. (2001). Popular music in childhood and adolescence. In D. G. Singer & J. L. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of Children and the Media (pp. 395–410). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  34. Sands, E. R., & Wardle, J. (2003). Internalization of ideal body shapes in 9–12 year-old girls. The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 33, 193–204. doi: 10.1002/eat.10121.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shroff, H., & Thompson, J. K. (2006). The tripartite influence model of body image and eating disturbance: A replication with adolescent girls. Body Image, 3, 17–23. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2005.10.004.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. The Independent. (2006, October 16). Magazines teen market: Losing readers to MySpace? Then this could be the answer. Retrieved from
  37. Thompson, J. K., Heinberg, L. J., Altabe, M., & Tantleff-Dunn, S. (2004a). Exacting beauty: Theory, assessment and treatment of body image disturbance. Washington: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  38. Thompson, J. K., van den Berg, P., Roehrig, M., Guarga, A. S., & Heinberg, L. J. (2004b). The Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Scale-3 (SATAQ-3): Development and Validation. The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 35, 293–304. doi: 10.1002/eat.10257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Thornton, B., & Maurice, J. K. (1999). Physical attractiveness contrast effect and the moderating influence of self-consciousness. Sex Roles, 40, 379–392. doi: 10.1023/A:1018867409265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tiggeman, M. (2003). Media exposure, body dissatisfaction and disordered eating: Television and magazines are not the same. European Eating Disorders Review, 11, 418–430. doi: 10.1002/erv.502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tiggemann, M., & Pickering, A. S. (1996). Role of television in adolescents women’s body satisfaction and drive for thinness. The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 20, 199–203. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098108X(199609)20:2.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Trampe, D., Stapel, D. A., & Siero, F. W. (2007). On models and vases: Body dissatisfaction and proneness to social comparison effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 106–118. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.92.1.106.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Van den Bulck, J. (2000). Is television bad for your health? Behaviour and body image of the adolescent “couch potato”. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 29, 273–288. doi: 10.1023/A:1005102523848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Want, S. C. (2009). Meta-analytic moderators of experimental exposure to media portrayals of women on female appearance satisfaction: Social comparisons as automatic processes. Body Image, 6, 257–269. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2009.07.008.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Yager, Z., & O’Dea, J. A. (2008). Prevention programs for body image and eating disorders on university campuses: A review of large, controlled interventions. Health Promotion International, 23, 173–189. doi: 10.1093/heapro/dan004.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zaninotto, P., Wardle, H., Stamatakis, E., Mindell, J., & Head, J. (2006). Forecasting obesity to 2010. Retrieved from The Department of Health
  47. Ziegler, S. G. (2007). The (mis)education of generation M. Learning, Media and Technology, 32, 69–81. doi: 10.1080/17439880601141302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SussexFalmerUK

Personalised recommendations