Looking Good Versus Feeling Good: An Investigation of Media Frames of Health Advice and Their Effects on Women’s Body-related Self-perceptions

Abstract

The present research had two goals: (1) to document how health advice is framed on the covers of women’s health magazines, and (2) to investigate whether exposure to appearance frames (i.e., do something in order to look better) affected women’s body-related self-perceptions compared to health frames (i.e., to do something in order to feel better). Study 1, a content analysis of 426 cover headlines on the five highest-circulating women’s health magazines in the United States, revealed that appearance frames were just as prevalent as health frames. Study 2, an experiment conducted on 103 U.S. undergraduate women, showed that those assigned to appearance frames reported more body shame and appearance-related motivation to exercise than women assigned to health frames.

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Correspondence to Jennifer Stevens Aubrey.

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Aubrey, J.S. Looking Good Versus Feeling Good: An Investigation of Media Frames of Health Advice and Their Effects on Women’s Body-related Self-perceptions. Sex Roles 63, 50–63 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9768-4

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Keywords

  • Framing
  • Health magazines
  • Health advice
  • Self-objectification
  • Body shame