Both boys and girls are exposed repeatedly to “thin-ideal” images in the media, that is, images of unrealistically thin and attractive women. As yet, however, little research has examined the impact of these images on boys. In the present study we investigated the effect of exposure to televised thin-ideal images on boys' attitudes toward girls. The participants were 354 boys aged 13–15 years, who viewed either 20 commercials that epitomized the thin-ideal for women or 20 commercials that contained no such images. They then rated the importance of 10 characteristics, including slimness and physical attractiveness, in their choice of partner or girlfriend. Appearance schematicity, a trait measure of the extent of investment in appearance as the basis for self-evaluation, was also assessed. It was found that schematicity was positively related to boys' importance ratings of attractiveness, slimness, athletic ability, muscularity, and popularity in a girlfriend. Further, boys who scored medium (but not high or low) on appearance schematicity were influenced by the commercials. These findings suggest that the media may have an indirect impact on girls' body image through influence on boys' expectations and evaluations of girls' appearance.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 28, 2004
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