Sex Roles

, Volume 40, Issue 5–6, pp 473–481

Television Situation Comedies: Female Body Images and Verbal Reinforcements

  • Gregory Fouts
  • Kimberley Burggraf

DOI: 10.1023/A:1018875711082

Cite this article as:
Fouts, G. & Burggraf, K. Sex Roles (1999) 40: 473. doi:10.1023/A:1018875711082


A content analysis of 28 different prime-timetelevision situation comedies examined the body weightsof 52 central female characters (88% White, 10% Black,2% Asian), the verbal comments they received from other characters as a function of bodyweight, and their self-comments with respect to theirown body weight, shape and dieting behaviors. Comparedwith the general population, below average central female characters were over-represented insituation comedies; above average weight characters wereunder-represented. Below average weight femalecharacters received significantly more positive verbal comments from male characters with regards tobody weight and shape than their heavier counterparts.Dieting female characters gave themselves significantlymore verbal punishment for their body weight and shape than those less involved in dieting.This combination of modeling the thin ideal and theverbal reinforcement associated with this modelinglikely contributes to the internalization of the thin ideal and may put some young female viewers atrisk for developing eating disorders.

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory Fouts
  • Kimberley Burggraf

There are no affiliations available

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