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body image and the media

            Relationship between Female's Body Image and .
             Sociocultural pressures are thought to play a very influential role in the prevalence of body dissatisfaction in contemporary Western society1-4. An increasing incidence of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders has coincided with changes in sociocultural norms for females over the last few decades. In contemporary society the ideal female body is thin, tall and long legged, and there is a pervasive belief among women that you need to fit this "ideal" to be successful4-6. These messages about the ideal female form are transmitted by a variety of means, including the family, peers and by the mass media2,7-9. The ubiquitous nature of the mass media makes it a particularly powerful force for influencing social attitudes. With a moderate level of body dissatisfaction now believed to be normal among females10, many researchers have looked toward this far reaching medium as a driving force for the dissemination of notions that a slender body is desirable3,7,11-15.
             The Changing Representation of the Female Body in the Media.
             Media content analyses have indicated that the mass media tend to portray the female form as much thinner than the average body size in the population, particularly in the last twenty years16,17. This shift toward a thinner ideal was first documented by Garner and associates (1980) where they found a significant decrease in the body measurements and weights of Playboy centrefolds and Miss America Pageant contestants from 1959 to 1978. This decrease was combined with a significant increase in the number of diet articles in popular women's magazines over the same period16. In an update of this study, Wiseman, Gray, Mosimann, and Ahrens (1992) reported a continuance of the slide downward in the weight of models in popular women's magazines from 1979 to 198817. In a more recent analysis, 21 popular women's magazines throughout 1996 were examined, and on 78% of the covers there was a message regarding bodily appearance18.

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