The effect of experimental presentation of thin media images on body satisfaction: A meta-analytic review




The effect of experimental manipulations of the thin beauty ideal, as portrayed in the mass media, on female body image was evaluated using meta-analysis.


Data from 25 studies (43 effect sizes) were used to examine the main effect of mass media images of the slender ideal, as well as the moderating effects of pre-existing body image problems, the age of the participants, the number of stimulus presentations, and the type of research design.


Body image was significantly more negative after viewing thin media images than after viewing images of either average size models, plus size models, or inanimate objects. This effect was stronger for between-subjects designs, participants less than 19 years of age, and for participants who are vulnerable to activation of a thinness schema.


Results support the sociocultural perspective that mass media promulgate a slender ideal that elicits body dissatisfaction. Implications for prevention and research on social comparison processes are considered. © 2002 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 31: 1–16, 2002.