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The purpose of this study is to understand the exposure young girls have to media and the weight concerns they have due to the depiction of ultra-thin women in the media. The relevance of the article lies in its drawing a direct relation between print media and the perception of adolescent and preadolescent girls of their body shapes and weight and the influence on their intentions of losing weight through a diet regime or exercising. This study is important for our study as it will allow us to understand the effect media has on young girls due to its depiction of women as very thin.
Description of the study
The study was conducted on a sample size of 548 students, girls from schools, and was given a questionnaire. They were from grade five to twelve out of which 29.5% were from elementary school, 31.4% from junior high school, and 33.3% from high school. The questionnaire asked questions about the girls’ weight and height. It also asked if they had exposure to fashion magazines. The response was rated on a scale ranging from “never” to “daily”. Students were categorized as high-frequency readers, moderate frequency readers, and infrequent readers based on their responses. Two questions were directed to assess the media’s influence on the girls’ attitude towards their weight: “Do you think that pictures of women in the magazines influence what you think is the perfect body shape?” and “Do pictures of women in magazines make you want to lose weight?” Then they were asked if they had initiated in a diet loss or exercising after reading the articles in the magazines. Then the girls were shown four pictures of models and were asked to answer questions like who they believed was most good looking, or would be popular among boys, they would like to look like, was likely to be more successful, etc.
For the analysis, the Mantel-Hanzels x2 test, with 1-degree freedom, was used to find the relation between reading fashion magazines and the trend of dieting and losing weight through exercising. It also studied their impact on their diet, exercise trends, and the readers’ perception of a perfect body. The study was done based on grade, race, or ethnic background, and their weights.
The result showed that 59% of respondents showed dissatisfaction with body weight, 66% wanted to lose weight, 29% were overweight. 69% of girls said that pictures of models in magazines shaped their perception of “perfect body shape” and 49% wanted to lose weight due to exposure to magazines. The study found that with age, girls became more frequent readers of magazines. Again the effect of culture and ethnicity was found to affect the girls due to their exposure to the magazines. Results showed that Hispanics were more likely to go under diet regime after reading magazines and black respondents believed that boys would prefer thin girls and would like to resemble the thinnest model than their white counterparts.
The research found that there existed a discontent among adolescent and preadolescent girls about their weight, which was directly related to their reading of fashion magazines. Further frequency of reading fashion magazines had a positive correlation with having a desire to lose weight, had undergone a diet regime, and was exercising to lose weight. The limitation of the study is that it is a cross-sectional study, so causality cannot be judged. A more effective method would have been observing the behavior of the girls.
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