Sex Roles

, Volume 48, Issue 5–6, pp 255–264 | Cite as

Television Viewers' Ideal Body Proportions: The Case of the Curvaceously Thin Woman

  • Kristen HarrisonEmail author


Dozens of studies have linked ideal-body media exposure to the idealization of a slim female figure, but none have examined the proportions of this figure. College women's and men's exposure to ideal-body images on television was correlated with their perceptions of the ideal female bust, waist, and hip sizes and their approval of surgical body-alteration methods. For women, exposure to ideal-body images on television predicted the choice of a smaller waist and hips, and either a larger bust (for those who perceived themselves to be smaller-busted) or a smaller bust (for those who perceived themselves to be larger-busted). For both women and men, exposure to ideal-body images on television predicted approval of women's use of surgical body-alteration methods such as liposuction and breast augmentation.

body image television cultivation women bust size 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barber, N. (1998). Secular changes in standards of bodily attractiveness in American women: Different masculine and feminine ideals. Journal of Psychology, 132, 87-94.Google Scholar
  2. Cattarin, J. A., Thompson, J. K., Thomas, C., & Williams, R. (2000). Body image, mood, and televised images of attractiveness: The role of social comparison. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19, 220-239.Google Scholar
  3. Fouts, G., & Burggraf, K. (1999). Television situation comedies: Female body images and verbal reinforcements. Sex Roles, 40, 473-481.Google Scholar
  4. Fouts, G., & Burggraf, K. (2000). Television situation comedies: Female weight, male negative comments, and audience reactions. Sex Roles, 42, 925-932.Google Scholar
  5. Garner, D. M., Garfinkel, P. E., Schwartz, D., & Thompson, M. (1980). Cultural expectations of thinness in women. Psychological Reports, 47, 483-491.Google Scholar
  6. Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N. (1994). Growing up with television: The cultivation perspective. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp. 17-41). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  7. Gleaves, D. H., Miller, K. J., Williams, T. J., & Summers, S. A. (2000). Eating disorders: An overview. In K. J. Miller & J. S. Mizes (Eds.), Comparative treatments for eating disorders (pp. 1-49). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  8. Greenberg, B. (1988). Some uncommon television images and the drench hypothesis. Applied Social Psychology Annual, 8, 88-102.Google Scholar
  9. Harrison, K. (2000). The body electric: Thin-ideal media and eating disorders in adolescents. Journal of Communication, 50, 119-143.Google Scholar
  10. Harrison, K., & Cantor, J. (1997). The relationship between media consumption and eating disorders. Journal of Communication, 47, 40-67.Google Scholar
  11. Henderson-King, E., & Henderson-King, D. (1997). Media effects on women's body esteem: Social and individual difference factors. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 27, 399-417.Google Scholar
  12. Irving, L. M. (1990). Mirror images: Effects of the standard of beauty on the self-and body-esteem of women exhibiting varying levels of bulimic symptoms. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 9, 230-242.Google Scholar
  13. Jourard, S. M., & Secord, P. F. (1955). Body-cathexis and personality. British Journal of Psychology, 46, 130-138.Google Scholar
  14. Katch, V. L., Campaigne, B., Freedson, P., Sayd, S., Katch, F. L., & Behnke, A. R. (1980). Contribution of breast volume and weight to body fat distribution in females. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 53, 93-100.Google Scholar
  15. Kenrick, D. T., & Gutierres, S. E. (1980). Contrast effects and judgments of physical attractiveness: When beauty becomes a social problem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 131-140.Google Scholar
  16. Koff, E., & Benavage, A. (1998). Breast size perception and satisfaction, body image, and psychological functioning in Caucasian and Asian American college women. Sex Roles, 38, 655-673.Google Scholar
  17. McCreary, D. R., & Sadava, S. W. (1999). Television viewing and self-perceived health, weight, and physical fitness: Evidence for the cultivation hypothesis. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29, 2342-2361.Google Scholar
  18. Sherwood, L. (1993). Human physiology: From cells to systems. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing.Google Scholar
  19. Silverstein, B., Perdue, L., Peterson, B., & Kelly, E. (1986). The role of the mass media in promoting a thin standard of attractiveness for women. Sex Roles, 14, 519-532.Google Scholar
  20. Silverstein, B., Perdue, L., Peterson, B., Vogel, L., & Fantini, R. (1986). Possible causes of the thin standard of bodily attractiveness for women. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 5, 907-916.Google Scholar
  21. Spitzer, B. L., Henderson, K. A., & Zivian, M. T. (1999). Gender differences in population versus media body sizes: A comparison over four decades. Sex Roles, 40, 545-565.Google Scholar
  22. Stice, E., Schupak-Neuberg, E., Shaw, H. E., & Stein, R. I. (1994). Relation of media exposure to eating disorder symptomatology: An examination of mediating mechanisms. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 103, 836-840.Google Scholar
  23. Stice, E., & Shaw, H. E. (1994). Adverse effects of the media portrayed thin-ideal on women and in kages to bulmic symptomatology. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 13, 288-308.Google Scholar
  24. Stunkard, A. J., Sorensen, T. I., & Schulsinger, F. (1983). Use of the Danish Adoption Register for the study of obesity and thinness. In S. Kety (Ed.), The genetics of neurological and psychiatric disorders (pp. 115-120). New York: Raven.Google Scholar
  25. Turner, S. L., Hamilton, H., Jacobs, M., Angood, L. M., & Dwyer, D. H. (1997). The influence of fashion magazines on the body image satisfaction of college women: An exploratory analysis. Adolescence, 32, 603-614.Google Scholar
  26. Wiseman, C. V., Gray, J. J., Mosimann, J. E., & Ahrens, A. H. (1992). Cultural expectations of thinness in women: An update. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 11, 85-89.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Speech CommunicationUniversity of IllinoisUrbana

Personalised recommendations