Body Dissatisfaction and Eating Disorder

Do TV and Magazine Cause Body Dissatisfaction and Eating Disorder? An Empirical Investigation with Special Reference to Young Females of Lahore


Almost each and every one grow up in the world is flooded with the mass media e.g. television, films, videos, billboards, magazines, movies, music, newspapers, and internet. There are a lot of discussions, describing impact of media on development of body dissatisfaction in females. But it is important to understand how the different types of media exposure are processed by the females and most importantly how they absorb message and react.

Television due to its mass reach has become one of the strongest medium to influence masses; it can influence not only the individual's attitude, behavior, life style, thinking aspects, moreover it also has potential to influence the culture of the country. Nowadays, the importance the media place on the thin and smart ideal body figure might be responsible for body size overestimations that females feel and make.

Over the past several years, many articles have proposed a link between the thin female beauty ideal portrayed in the media with a range of psychological symptomatology including body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. Studies have reported significant change in weight and size of female models shown throughout the media in western society and the concept of ideal or perfect body. Over time the cultural ideal for women's body shape and size has considerably changed towards thinner and leaner (Morris and Katzman, 2003).

This research study measures the influence of television and magazine on the development of an adolescent's self esteem, desired body image, eating disorder and sociocultural attitude towards appearance. In addition we also examine how the television programs and magazine influence young females of Pakistan.

The study is of major interest to both marketers and public policy officials. Marketers are keen to know is their advertising effective or not, while policy makers are concerned with protecting the interests of the common customer. This study is particularly important as there is a lack of empirical evidence on the topic within the context of young females from Asian cultures with special reference to television in Pakistan.

Literature Review

The purpose of this literature review is to outline theoretical framework for this study and to present current and previous research on different factors responsible for causing body dissatisfaction, eating disorders and low self esteem.

During the past few decades, scholars and clinicians who were initially interested in the study of electronic media effects on mental health have focused their attention to the link between exposure to thin ideal media image and eating disorders (Stice, 1998;Harrison and Cantor, 1997). Heinberg, (1996) reported, vast majority of female television characters are thinner than the average American woman, with less than 10% of women appearing on television being overweight. Harrison and Cantor, (1997) found that exposure to thinness portraying and promoting media, especially magazines, wish for thinness, dissatisfaction with the body, and ineffectiveness in females is rising. They also suggested that exposure to television programs with noticeably fat, main characters predicted dissatisfaction with body.

The research that has focused mainly on adolescent, media and body image (Tiggemann and Pickering, 1996;Tiggemann, 2003;Harrison and Cantor, 1997) examines the problematic effects of exposure to thin ideal media image on young women. So there is enough evidence to link relationship between thin ideal image portrayed in media and the development of eating disorder in adolescent females.

Self-esteem is a dynamic construct, which is influenced by a variety of factors such as childhood & adolescent experiences, personality and body image. It seems logical that any effect or negative thinking may influence on body image that ultimately affect self-esteem, thus promoting the risk of developing an eating disorder as the females try to control their bodyweight in order to feel acceptable in the society. Research has found that low self-esteem is associated with body dissatisfaction (Shea and Pritchard, 2007). Increased BMI (Body Mass Index) has also been found to predict the increase in body image concerns among college-aged females (Frederick et al., 2007). In this regard, the media may contribute to low self-esteem by promoting thin ideal body images as a way to gain respect, acceptance and love (Jade, 2002). Many researchers like Schupak-Neuberg, Rosen and Button have suggested that low self-esteem transpires very frequently in patients having eating disorders.

Purpose of this Study

The main purpose of this study is to investigate theoretically and test empirically:

* The relationship between media exposure and body dissatisfaction.

* The relationship between media exposure and disordered eating.

* Which media TV or Magazine is creating more body dissatisfaction

* Which media TV or Magazine is creating eating more disorder

Conceptual Frame Work

The conceptual frame work of this study is taken from the study of Tiggemann, (2003).

Data Analysis Technique

Cronbach's alpha for internal consistency and multiple regression analysis and path analysis will be used to check the relationship.

(Also discuss the concept of validity as applied to measurement procedures on the research tools used to collect the required information from your respondents)

Data Collection

Data will be collected from the young females in particular the age group between 16-20 years old, as females of this age group prevail risk of developing body dissatisfaction and eating disorder (Harrison and Cantor, 1997). Convenience sampling technique will be used.

Sample Size

The total sample size will be 250 young university/college attending girls from Lahore with consideration of equal representation of respondents from each college/university from where the data will be collected.

Research Instrument

Body dissatisfaction will be assessed by figure ranking scale developed by Fallon and Rozin, (1985), Body Mass Index and Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI) will be measured by questionnaire developed by Garner et al., (1983), sociocultural attitude towards appearance will be measured by questionnaire developed by Heinberg et al., (1995), self esteem will be measured by 10 item self-esteem scale developed by Bachman and O'Malley, (1977). A number of media exposure related variables from the study of Tiggemann, (2003) will be used.


Bachman, J.G. and O'Malley, P.M. (1977) 'Self-Esteem in Young Men: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Impact of Educational and Occupational Attainment', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 35, no. 6, June, pp. 365-380.

Fallon, A.E. and Rozin, P. (1985) 'Sex Differences in perceptions of Desirable Body Shape', Journal of Abnormal Psycholgy , vol. 94, no. 1, pp. 102-105.

Frederick, D.A., Forbes, G.B., Grigorian, K.E. and Jarcho, J.M. (2007) 'The UCLA body project I: Gender and ethnic differences in self-objectification and body satisfaction among 2,206 undergraduates', Sex Roles, vol. 57, July, p. 317-327.

Garner, D.M., Olmsted, M.P. and Polivy, J. (1983) 'Development and Validation of a Multidimensional Eating Disorder Inventory for Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia', International Journal of Eating Disorders, vol. 2, p. 15-34.

Harrison, K. and Cantor, J. (1997) 'The Relationship Between Media Consumption and Eating Disorders', Journal of Communication, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 40-67.

Heinberg, L.J., Thompson, J.K. and Stormer, S. (1995) 'Development and Validation of the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire', International Journal of Eating Disorders, vol. 17, pp. 81-89.

Jade, D. (2002) National Centre For Eating Disorders, [Online], Available: [Feb 2010].

Morris, A.M. and Katzman, D.K. (2003) 'The Impact of the Media on Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents', Paediatr Child Health, vol. 8, no. 5, June, pp. 287-289.

Shea, M.E. and Pritchard, M.E. (2007) 'Is Self-Esteem the Primary Predictor of Disordered Eating?', Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 42, no. 8, June, pp. 1527-1537.

Stice, E. (1998) 'Modeling of eating pathology and social reinforcement of the thin-ideal predict onset of bulimic symptoms', Behaviour Research and Therapy, vol. 36, no. 10, October, pp. 931-944.

Tiggemann, M. (2003) 'Media Exposure, Body Dissatisfaction and Disorder Eating: Televison and Magazines are not the Same!', European Eating Disorders Review, vol. 11, no. 5, March, pp. 418-430.

Tiggemann, M. and Pickering, A.S. (1996) 'Role of Television in Adolescent Women's Body Dissatisfaction and Drive for Thinness', hternational lournal of Eating Disorders, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 199-203.

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