ERIC Number: EJ1010067
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Reference Count: N/A
Reconstructing the Ideal Body Image in Teen Fashion Magazines
Malachowski, Colleen C.; Myers, Scott A.
Communication Teacher, v27 n1 p33-37 2013
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA, 2005), 10 million women and one million men struggle with eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia. Disordered eating is most common in adolescent girls ages 15-19 and is prevalent in a diverse range of populations (NEDA, 2005). For example, African-American girls aged 11-14 engage in more behaviors commonly associated with disordered eating than Caucasian girls of the same age (NEDA, 2005), and 28% of Native American teenage girls in grades 7-12 reported purging behavior while 48.3% admitted to dieting (Story et al., 1997). One common explanation for disordered eating is exposure to thinness depicting and promoting (TDP) media, which showcase and endorse slender individuals, resulting in distorted or negative body image perceptions among female adolescents and college women (Bell & Dittmar, 2011; Harrison, 2000; Myers & Biocca, 1992; Silverstein, Perdue, Peterson, & Kelly, 1986). These distorted or negative body images are problematic because exposure to such "thin-ideal" media may lead to disordered eating (Bissell & Zhou, 2004; Harrison, 2000), among other problems. One prominent TDP media are teen fashion magazines (e.g., "Teen Vogue," "Seventeen," and "Glamour"), which depict slender models that increase women's drive for thinness (Cohen, 2006). These magazines are particularly influential because they target an audience in which disordered eating is most common, and display models that are thinner than 98% of American women (NEDA, 2005). Further, Harrison (2000) found that for females, exposure to TDP magazine content positively predicted anorexia. She also reported that for 9th and 12th grade females, exposure to thin-ideal magazine content was a positive predictor of bulimia. Her research findings are in accordance with Tiggerman (2003), who found that reading fashion magazines was correlated positively with internalizing the thin ideal. This activity is designed to challenge gender and communication students to develop ways to combat TDP media by having students create a teen fashion magazine that promotes healthy and authentic body images of women. This assignment allows students to consider how a hypothetical editor may design a popular magazine that provides women with an attainable and healthy social comparison. A list of references and suggested readings is included.
Descriptors: Periodicals, Adolescents, Self Concept, Body Composition, Racial Differences, Eating Disorders, Females, Mass Media Effects, Communications
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A