Women & MediaBeauty Pursuit for Perfection Emily Motzkus, Natalie Jensen, Jessica St. Jeor Afshan Nabi & Kirsten Whitworth
Social Comparison Theory Proposed by Leon Festinger in 1957 Central proposition states the so-called similarity hypothesis. Under this hypothesis it is assumed that people compare themselves with others whom they consider relevant comparison targets rather than compare themselves to with less relevant comparison targets. Comparison relevance is an important prerequisite for social comparison effects to occur Helps explain why people emulate models they see in the media.
Experiment:On Models and Vases: Body Dissatisfaction and Proneness to Social Comparison Effects Question Asked:When and why do media-portrayed physically attractive women affect Perceivers’ self evaluations? Hypothesis:Whether social comparison effects occur depends both on who the comparison target is and on who the perceiver target is. & also that target features and perceiver features jointly determine whether female body shapes will exert contrastive social comparison effects on their perceivers. Results: Study 1- (focuses on target features) After exposure to a physically attractive target, women’s self-evaluations were lower than after exposure to the same target, when the target was presented as professional models. Study 2- (Focuses on comparison tendencies of perceivers) It was found that the more women were dissatisfied with their body, the more they reported that they compared their own body with the bodies of other women. Study 3- (Self-evaluations) Showed that body-dissatisfied women are more readily affected by viewing images of thin female body shapes. Body-dissatisfied women evaluated themselves negatively after exposure to a physically attractive target regardless of whether or not the target was presented as models. In contrast, body-satisfied women did differentiate between targets that were presented as models, such that self-evaluations were lower following non-model as compared with model.
A Developmental Perspective • As early as age 5 or 6 children begin to recognize differences among themselves and their classmates as they use social comparison information to tell them whether they perform better or worse in various domains than their peers. • Today at least one-third of 12-13 year olds are actively trying to lose weight by dieting, vomiting, using laxatives or taking diet pills. • A survey in Massachusetts found that the single largest group of high school students considering or attempting suicide are girls who feel they are overweight. • It’s estimated that one out of every five college age women in America has a serious eating disorder. • 80% of American women wake-up in the morning and feel inadequate about some part of themselves.
The Unattainable Ideal • Ultra thin • Large breasts and hips 34’’ • Tiny waists 24’’ • Narrow set shoulders • Long slender legs • European features • The Association of Model Agents (AMA) states that female models should measure 34-24-34 inches and stand at least five feet nine inches tall. • Statistics given by the National Eating Disorders Association reports, the average American woman stands 5’4’’ tall and 140 lbs. while the average American model stands 5’11’’ tall and 117 lbs. • The average American mannequin stands 6’ tall with measurements 34-23-34 • Today an average model weighs 23% less than the average woman.
“A Photograph Never Lies” • Evolution Video • Make-up • Widens eyes • Smoothes skin tone • Creates sculpted cheek bones • Digital Imaging • gives a longer, slimmer neck • Slightly narrower upper face • Fuller lips • Bigger eyes • More space between eyebrows and eyes • Prominent cheek-bones The Truth about Beauty With the help of make-up artists, hair stylists and digital transformations a seemingly ordinary woman with uneven skin tone, dull flat hair, and slightly lopsided eyes can easily become a beautiful, striking woman.
What You See Isn’t Always What You Get • Fluid Effects
References Hoffmann, A. (2004). The beauty ideal: unveiling harmful effects of media exposure to children. Retrieved March30, 2007. from www.umehon.maine.edu/documents/rezendes/hoffmann-2004.pdf Kilbourne,J. (1999). Deadly Persuasion: Why women & girls must fight the addictive power of advertising. New York, NY: Free Press Lazarus, M. (Producer). (1987). Still killing us softly. [Motion Picture]. Available from Cambridge Documentary Films, Cambridge Mass. Olivieri, J.M. (1999, September 30). Body Image vs. the Fun House mirror. Colorado Woman,12 (6) Postrel, V. (2007, March). The truth about beauty. The Critics. 125-127. Trampe, D, Stapel, D & Siero, F. (2007).On Models & Vases: Body dissatisfaction & Proneness to social comparison effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,92 (1), 106-118. Shaffer, D.R. (2005) Social and personality development (5th ed.) Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Changing Images Over Time The History of Female Body Modification Natalie Jensen REFERENCES Gordon, B. (1996). Women’s domestic body: The conceptual conflation of women and interiors in the industrial age. Winterthur Portfolio, 31 (4), 281-301. Hyndman, A. (2006, April). Female body modification throughout time. Ecclectia, Retrieved March 23, 2007, from http://www.ecclectia.ca/issues/2006/1/index.asp?Article=23 Kitch, C. (1997). Changing theoretical perspectives on women’s media images: The emergence of patterns in a new area of scholarship. Journalism and Mass CommunicationQuarterly, 74 (3), 477-489. Retrieved March 16, 2007, from EBSCOHost database. Lewis, J. J. (2007). Early English costume: Women’s fashion from the time of William the conqueror. Retrieved March 25, 2007, from About: Women’s History Web site: http://womenshistory.about.com/library/etext/bl_cf_ee.htm Witcombe, C. (2003). Women in prehistory: The venus of Willendorf. Retrieved March 15, 2007, from Images of women in ancient art: Issues of interpretation and identity Web site: http://witcombe.sbc.edu/willendorf/willendorfdiscovery.html Witcombe, C. (2003). Women in Egypt: Menkaure and his queen. Retrieved March 20, 2007, from Images of women in ancient art: Issues of interpretation and identity Web site: http://witcombe.sbc.edu/menkaure/menkauredescription.html Witcombe, C. (2003). Eve and the identity of women. Retrieved March 20, 2007, from Images of women in ancient art: Issues of interpretation and identity Web site: http://witcombe.sbc.edu/eve-women/1evewomen.html
A Look Back… • THE ISSUE OF A WOMAN’S IDEAL PROJECTION IN THE ART OR POPULAR MEDIA HAS BEEN AROUND SINCE THE BEGINNING OF OUR WORLD • “Art has always played and continues to play an important role in the service of what has been called “gender ideology”. • How women should look • How they should act • How they should interact with men • Gaye Tuchman’s “Reflection Hypothesis” The cultural imagery of women serves as a mirror held up to the real world. This mirror reflects the options for and value of women, depending on the popular beliefs of the time. -Sound familiar? “Looking glass self”
Early Representations of The Ideal Woman • Prehistory and Ancient Times • Representations are nearly always naked, small, and often suggesting pregnancy or fertility. • -”Venus of Willendorf” 24,000-22,000 BCE • -Many early statues of women lack facial features and feet. • -Sexual organs exposed Egyptian Times • Art representations of women during this time emphasized sexuality and beauty. • -emphasis on breasts and “pubic triangle” -tight, thin sheaths • -evidence of tripartite wigs and henna use for dying hair, make-up recipes, perfumes, etc. Dark Ages-Reformation-ideal woman is chaste, virgin-like, motherly, round, pale and soft. Women largely discouraged from sexual independence. (Eve)
Other Early Trends in Women Image Modification • Feet Binding-particularly in China • Earrings-as early as 3500 B.C. • Make up • Tattoos • Primitive surgeries-including Female Genital Mutilation • And, you knew it would come up somewhere…. THE CORSET
An Interesting Analysis of the Woman’s Image in the Industrial Age-”Women’s Domestic Body: The Conceptual Conflation of Women and Interiors in the Industrial Age” -Beverly Gordon • “The body and interior space were often treated as if they were the same thing.” • Woman is seen as the embodiment of the home and the home is seen as an extension of her. • 1878-”A lady must be in harmony with her surroundings. She should be the noblest ornament of her ornamented dwellings.” • 1910-”Every woman is a living example of good or bad taste, as is shown by her dress and her immediate surroundings.” • Lots of rules during this time on how to dress for each occasion. • Women would ideally appear “pleasingly soft and round” • The idea of the “civilized” woman meant a “distance or separation from the body” • Women would express “themselves” in their homes and at community fairs • Lots of symbolism in the way women dressed their bodies and their homes. Watch for examples coming around room.
Other Ideas on Changing Images of Women? • 1910-innocent girl and “vamp” • 1920-flappers • 1930-1940-the working woman • 1950-the happy housewife and the sexpot • 1960-the “flower children” • 1970-the “single heroines” • 1980-the strong woman • 1990-the “have it all” woman
Why should we care? -Popular images of women have more to do with a culture’s “values and identities than literal description[s] of women.” -Popular images are “intentionally constructed by societal leaders to perpetuate political, economic, and social order.” -All women, even those who try to fight or resist the cultural roles assigned to them are affected by the attitudes and beliefs implied by the popular images. This means that they will face expectations, stereotypes, limitations, and societal/personal implications because of the images. “Images of women and men can effectively incite both sexes to adopt certain self images, attitudes and behaviour. Male-constructed images of women are so embedded in Western culture that they appear quite “natural”. Once it is recognized that they are constructions, it becomes necessary to ask not only how they are constructed but why.” (italics added)
Objectification Jessica St. Jeor
References: • Aubrey, J.S. (2006). Effects of sexually objectifying media on self- objectification and body surveillance in undergraduates: results of a 2-year panel study. Journal of Communications, 56, 366-386. • Frederickson, B.L, &Roberts, T. (1997). Objectification theory: toward understanding women’s lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 173-206 • Murnen, S.K., Smolak, L., Mills, J.A., & Good, L. (2003). Thin, sexy women and strong muscular men: grade-school children’s responses to objectified imaged of women and men. Sex Roles, 49, 427-236.
Sexual Objectification Viewing individuals as a sexual object by emphasizing their sexual attributes and physical attractiveness, while de-emphasizing their existence as a living person with emotions and feelings of their own.(Aubrey, 2006) In the media women’s bodies are more likely to be shown to advertise products and there is often a focus on parts of the body, rather than the whole body, which emphasizes the view of woman as an object. (Frederickson & Roberts, 1997)
Objectification Theory Developed by Fedrickson & Roberts as an attempt to understand the consequences of being female in a society that sexually objectifies women. Concluded that self-objectification can lead to habitual body monitoring, which can increase the opportunity for shame, anxiety and diminished awareness of internal body states. Accumulation of experiences such as these helps to account for the range of mental health risks that affect women particularly depression, sexual dysfunction and eating disorders.
Research: Murnen S.K. et alThin, Sexy Women and Strong, Muscular Men: Grade-School Children’s Responses to Objectified Images of Women and Men Purpose: to examine the links between sexual objectification and self-objectification from a developmental perspective by examining how grade-school girls responded to objectified images of women. (Murnen, S.K. et al, 2006) Procedure: *included 88 girls ranging in age from 6 to 12 * girls to four pictures of female singing stars (Brittney Spears, Christina Agulera, Shania Twain, and Jennifer Lopez). *after seeing the pictures, the girls were asked to respond to a list of questions relating to their experience and opinions relating to the picture they had just seen.
Results As predicted… * consistently positive responses to the pictures correlated to the girls awareness of objectification, high level of internalization, and low body esteem. * among the girls you showed acceptance and internal consistency in response to the four images, some girls showed a fairly sophisticated understanding of the role objectification plays in women’s lives based upon their responses. (Murnen S.K. et al, 2003) Overall… these results advocate that girls who are aware of this thin, sexy ideal (sexual objectification) and internalize it (self-objectification) believe that it is important to live up to these ideals to be viewed as valued and capable
Media’s Effects on Self-esteem of Teenage Girls Afshan Nabi
Self-image vs. Society’s idea of Beauty • As girls enter teenage years, they get mixed messages from the media: there are ads and magazines showing exactly what they should dress like, and other shows that say that, “People should be respected for who they are.” • The mixed messages widen the gap between self-image, and society’s idea of a beautiful girl. • This confusion makes it more difficult to make the transition to adulthood.
Portrayal of Teenage Girls • A serious pressure imposed of teenage girls is by the media’s increasing portrayal of very young girls in sexual ways. • For the past decade, girls as young as 12-year-olds have been portrayed as grown women. • Girls also get to see a narrowly stereotypical portrayal of women in the media, like: • Powerless, dependant, and submissive. • The girl is looking up at a taller man. • A wounded and sorrowful expression on the girl’s face.
Media’s Effects on Self-Esteem • In a national media survey, 2 out of the 3 girls that participated, said that they, “Wanted to look like a character on TV.” And 1 out of 3 said that they, “changed something about their appearance to resemble that TV character.” • In a study done in 2002, at Flinders University in South Australia on how teenage girls relate to advertising, they found: girls who watched commercials featuring extremely skinny models lost self-confidence and increasingly became more dissatisfied with their own bodies. And girls who were spending the most time and effort to make changes in their appearance, suffered the greatest loss in self-confidence.
As a Result... • During adolescence, the boys who are confident in themselves, remains relatively stable. While the self-confident girls drop from 72% in 6th grade to 55% in 10th grade. • As these girls become teenagers, many choose to tune out, but others maintain a hungry appetite for these messages. As Shawn Doherty and Nadine Joseph note, those who continue to consume media images are strongly influenced "by stereotypical images of uniformly beautiful, obsessively thin and scantily dressed objects of male desire. And studies show that girls who are frequent viewers have the most negative opinion of their gender."
Media in other Countries • The teenage girls in Fiji, after being exposed to the satellite TV for 3 years, changed their societal values and body images to reflect the western values which they were exposed to. These girls became seriously conscious about their body, and focused on dieting. However, before the media influence, there had been little talk of dieting and body satisfaction was much higher. • A similar effect was found in Iran, due to which the western television was banned there. Women are only shown on TV with almost all of their bodies covered. It was found that Iranian women had higher body satisfaction than their American counterparts.
Clinical Definition’s • DSM-IV Criteria for Anorexia Nervosa • Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height (eg, weight loss leading to maintenance of body weight less than 85% of that expected or failure to make expected weight gain during period of growth, leading to body weight less than 85% of that expected). • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight. • Disturbance in the way in which one's body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight. • In postmenarchal females, amenorrhea ie, the absence of at least three consecutive cycles. (A woman is considered to have amenorrhea if her periods occur only following hormone, eg, estrogen administration.)administration.)
Types • Restricting Type: During the current episode of anorexia nervosa, the person has not regularly engaged in binge-eating or purging behavior (i.e., self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas). • Binge-Eating/Purging Type: During the current episode of anorexia nervosa, the person has regularly engaged in binge-eating or purging behavior (i.e., self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas).ics
Causes Of Anorexia • There are no Clear causes of anorexia. Psychiatrists are unable to pinpoint a specific population that is prone to this disorder. This makes treating and preventing this disorder very difficult. • One of the largest problems with anorexics is that their bodies have abnormally high serotonin levels. This helps to suppress their appetite and severely affects their moods. • Though no genetic or biological reasons have been found for eating disorders the media and its negative influence push many young women into eating disorders.
Causes cont. • Studies have shown that girls with family history of anorexia are 12 times more likely to develop an eating disorder. • Anorexia is the leading cause of death among psychiatric disorders. • Eating disorders often go hand in hand with emotional problems such as anxiety and depression.