TV Makes Viewers Idealise Slim Bodies, Says Study.
Ing just a couple hours of tv a week makes viewers find girls according to a new study. The study team from Durham University in UK, worked with men and women in Central America who had routine or hardly any TV access from several villages in a remote area of Nicaragua.
The people with very limited access to TV preferred female figures with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) whereas individuals who often watched TV preferred thinner bodies. The findings, published in the Journal of Social and Personality Psychology, show that TV exposure can have a powerful impact on what people perceive as the ideal body.
Tracey Thornborrow, research co-author, the University of Lincoln”We showed the villagers that a series of pictures, either revealing bigger women or thinner girls. We found that after seeing these pictures, the villagers’ body ideals corrected in exactly the same direction.”
“Our findings clearly demonstrate that perceptions of attractiveness are highly changeable, and are affected by what we are visually exposed to,” Thornborrow stated.
In the study, 299 women and men from seven villages in the Pearl Lagoon Basin area of Nicaragua participate for the study. They completed a questionnaire about their ethnicity, speech, income, hunger, education and TV exposure. They were then asked to rate the attractiveness of pictures of bodies with body shapes and sizes.
The cities in Nicaragua were chosen because people were rather similar in terms such as education, income and nutrition, but had differing access to TV. People in the villages in this part of Nicaragua generally didn’t have access to the web or magazines, and none of the participants in the study owned a smartphone.
Only those individuals with the money to pay for subscription and a TV as well as power supplies to their homes could watch TV on a regular basis. This meant researchers were able to isolate the impact of TV exposure from the other aspects.
Those people using TV watched a mixture of Latin soap operas, Hollywood action movies, music videos, police”car chase” reality shows and the information. “This study, using a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods with non-Western participants, provides more empirical evidence that the mass media influence female body size ideals,” said study co-author Jean-Luc Jucker.
The representation of this”thin ideal” in the media may lead to body dissatisfaction and can play a role in the development of eating disorders and depression, said the analysis.
The researchers are calling on TV and advertisements bosses to show people of all shapes and sizes to be able to decrease the pressure on women and girls to aspire to a “thin ideal body”.