Fashion Models and Women's Body Image: Differences in Perceived Media Effects Between Black and Whites

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Ohio State University, 1998 - 116 pages
Abstract: The purpose of this thesis was to understand how women differentiate between body image influences of the media on self and others using the third-person effect. The study focused on the perceived effect of fashion models on college-age women. This thesis predicted that perceived media effect on others would be greater than on self. Due to obvious cultural differences, it was predicted that black women would perceive fashion models to have a greater effect on white women than on other black women. Also, it was predicted that white women would perceive the effects of fashion models to be greater on other white women than black women. Eighty female undergraduates participated in the study. Findings suggest that perceived effect on others was greater than perceived effect on self. When black fashion models were the stimuli, some interesting differences were noticeable. Among black students, perceived effect of black models on white students was equal to or less than perceived effect on self. The third-person effects continued to persist for other black women. A more interesting difference between blacks and whites is the perceived effect of black and white models on self. While race of the model made a significant difference in perceived effect of media on self for black students, race of the model did not make a significant difference for perceived effect on self for white students. In contrast, among white students, there were no significant differences between perceived effect of black models on other black women and white women, although there was a significant difference between self and others. The results suggested that third-person media effect have some very serious consequences for young women and lead to some potential health risks. People may be slower in recognizing their own personal vulnerabilities when it comes to body image and possibly eating disorders. Advertisers need to start understanding that a black model used for a white audience may not be a hindrance to their ad, but using a white model for a black audience may have a negative effect.

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