Too Thin or Too Thick: How Media Easily Affects Our Beauty Ideals

Khryss | Published 2017-09-06 16:41

Fifteen minutes. That's all media need to fck up people's minds.

In lands far away from the fast paced technology-loving society lived people who haven't been exposed to our  beloved electricity...well except for that odd solar panel that can power a bulb. However, their government was about to spice things up and planned to put them to the electricity grid wherein the beautiful world of media awaits--mainly the TV.

“When they get electricity, people generally say they want two things – a fridge and a television,” says author Jean-Luc Jucker of the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. “They go from having no television to 100 channels.”

This could create silent changes most specifically on one's beauty ideals as previous studies showed how slender women's publicity on media affect people's perception of attractiveness. So, researchers recruited people from two rural villages along the Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua to test such idea on "less exposed" places. A total of 80 volunteers joined the experiment which includes men and women aged between 16 and 78.

Utilizing a computer software, they were first asked to create their "ideal body shape" for a woman. Researchers then showed them images from a popular Western clothing store's catalogue. Half of the participants were shown 72 photos of thin women while the other half were shown 72 photos of plus-sized female models. Given in pairs, each volunteer were then told to choose from the two images which was more attractive. After this 15-minute task, they were again asked to create their ideal women's body shape using the same software. The results?

People who saw images of thin women have then thinner ideal bodies than the first and original ones they have created. Conversely, those who were shown images of plus-sized models had larger ideal bodies than the first!

“It is very interesting to see that a brief, ‘light-touch’ exposure is enough to show a demonstrable change in body ideal,” says Helen Sharpe at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Researchers note, though, that the length of the exposure's effect is still unclear.

“We don’t want to demonise television – it’s good in that it provides access to political information and storm warnings, and helps people learn languages,” says Jucker. “We just say that it is associated with these risks.”

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