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

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Beth Teresa Bell.

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Bell, B.T., Dittmar, H. Does Media Type Matter? The Role of Identification in Adolescent Girls’ Media Consumption and the Impact of Different Thin-Ideal Media on Body Image. Sex Roles 65, 478 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-9964-x

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Keywords

  • Adolescent girls
  • Media consumption
  • Thin ideal
  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Body image