The body electric: thin-ideal media and eating disorders in adolescents



The aim of this study was to replicate survey research demonstrating a correlation between adults' thin-ideal media exposure and eating disorders (Harrison & Cantor, 1997) with a sample of 366 adolescents. Measures included interest in body-improvement media content, exposure to thin-ideal television and magazines, exposure to fat-character television, exposure to sports magazines, and eating-disorder symptomatology. Exposure to fat-character television, thin-ideal magazines, and sports magazines predicted eating-disorder symptomatology for females, especially older females. Exposure to fat-character television also predicted body dissatisfaction for younger males. Relationships remained significant when selective exposure based on interest in body-management content was controlled. Discussion centers on the importance of age and sex in moderating the effects of exposure to thin-ideal media on eating disorders.