Should Women be "All About That Bass?": Diverse Body-ideal Messages and Women’s Body Image

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While most body image research emphasizes the thin ideal, a wider variety of body-ideal messages pervade U.S. popular culture today, including those promoting athleticism or curves. Two studies assessed women’s reactions to messages conveying thin, athletic, and curvy ideals, compared to a control message that emphasized accepting all body types. Study 1 (N = 192) surveyed women’s responses to these messages and found they perceived body-acceptance and athletic messages most favorably, curvy messages more negatively, and thin messages most negatively. Further, greatest liking within each message category came from women who identified with that body type. Study 2 (N = 189) experimentally manipulated exposure to these messages, then measured self-objectification and body satisfaction. Messages promoting a body-ideal caused more self-objectification than body-acceptance messages. Also, athletic messages caused more body dissatisfaction than thin messages. Together, these findings reveal the complexity of women’s responses to diverse messages they receive about ideal bodies.

Original Citation

Betz, D.E. & Ramsey, L.R. (2017). Should Women be “All About That Bass?”: Diverse Body-ideal Messages and Women’s Body Image. Body Image 22, 18-31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2017.04.004