• TABLE OF CONTENTS
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 Title Page
 Dedication
 Acknowledgement
 Table of Contents
 Abstract
 Introduction
 Review of literature
 Methods
 Findings
 Summary and conclusions
 Appendices
 References
 Biographical sketch






Title: Cultural standards of attractiveness : a 30-year look at changes in male images in the mass media
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Title: Cultural standards of attractiveness : a 30-year look at changes in male images in the mass media
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    Dedication
        Page iii
    Acknowledgement
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
    Abstract
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Introduction
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Review of literature
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
    Methods
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
    Findings
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
    Summary and conclusions
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
    Appendices
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
    References
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
    Biographical sketch
        Page 89
        Page 90
Full Text











CULTURAL STANDARDS OF ATTRACTIVENESS: A 30-YEAR LOOK AT
CHANGES IN MALE IMAGES IN THE MASS MEDIA













By

CHERYL LYNN LAW


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA





























Copyright 1998

by

Cheryl L. Law






































This research is dedicated to Falco von Baron, July 8, 1986 March 13, 1998,
whose memory will always be in my heart.
















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


This research would not have taken place without the support I received from my

chair, Dr. Kim Walsh-Childers. Her confidence in the importance of conducting research

in this unexamined area of mass communications was invaluable. Her encouragement

and enthusiasm kept me motivated to get through several stumbling blocks. The unique

advertising qualifications of Dr. Deborah Triese as well as her sense of humor were

especially helpful. And I am appreciative of Dr. Linda Hon for continually challenging

me to explain the "so-what," which strengthened my thesis. I am indebted to Lyn P.

Settlemyre, who donated countless hours of his time as my independent coder. Finally, I

thank James W. Law, who reminded me of the importance of my subject and encouraged

me to continue with it when I was faced with the many challenges along the way.















TABLE OF CONTENTS





A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. IV

A B S T R A C T ................................................... ................... ................ . V II

CHAPTERS

1 IN T R O D U C T IO N .................................................... ................................. 1

2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE........................ .... ......................... 10

D efin itio n o f T erm s ......................................................................................... 10
Social Comparison Theory-An Overview .............................................. 13
Women, Mass Media and Eating Disorders............... ................. 18
M edia Portrayals ......................... ... ... ....... .. ...... .. .......... .... 18
The Advertising/Entertainment Industries' Viewpoints.......................... 25
Media as Possible Causes/Contributors to Self-esteem, Body Image
Distortion and Eating Disorders........................... .... ................ 30
Men, Mass Media and Eating Disorders ............................... ............. 37
M edia Portrayals .............. ...... ......... ... ........ .. .. ........ ..... 37
The Advertising/Entertainment Industries' Viewpoints.......................... 42
Media as Possible Causes/Contributors to Self-esteem, Body Image
Distortion and Eating Disorders........................... .... ............... 45
Summary........................................... .......... 50
R research Q questions ................................................ ............................. 51

3 M E TH O D S............................. .............. ...... 52

O v erv iew ......................... ................................................ ................... .......... 5 2
Coding and D ata A analysis ................................................................ 54

4 FINDINGS ........... ........................... ............... 61

General Inform ation ............... ................................. .. ............ .............. 61
H ypotheses................................................... .......................... ....... 62
M uscular Ideal ................................... . .................................. 62









"V -shaped"............................................. 63
M asculine Im ages ............................................................... .. .......... 66
Post Hoc Analysis .............. ................. ....... ............... ............ 66

5 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS ............................................................ 69

D iscu ssio n .......................................................... ................ . 6 9
Research Contributions for Mass Communications .................................... 70
Research Limitations and Opportunities for Future Research ..................... 71
C o n clu sio n ................................................ ................ . 7 4

APPENDICES

A M A G A Z IN E ISSU E S ....................... .......................... ..................................... 76

B MALE SCALE ........................ ........... .......... ...... ........ 77

C COD ING RU LES ........ ......... .. ................. ...... ......................... 78

D C O D IN G SH EETS.................... ....................................... .......................... 81

R E F E R E N C E S ............................................................. .................... .......... ...... 82

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................... .......................................... .......................... 89














Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication

CULTURAL STANDARDS OF ATTRACTIVENESS: A 30-YEAR LOOK AT
CHANGES IN MALE IMAGES IN THE MASS MEDIA
By

Cheryl Lynn Law

May 1998

Chairperson: Kim Walsh-Childers
Major Department: Mass Communication


The literature indicates that American society embraces thinness as a cultural

standard of attractiveness for women; however, a cultural standard of attractiveness for

men is not well documented. Some researchers indicate that men now also are entering

the world of objectified bodies where unattainable ideals are the norm and that these mass

media images contribute to psychological distress and related disorders. Past research

points to men not being affected by the images in the mass media because these are

almost identical to the way men see their own bodies. If, as some researchers believe, the

images in the mass media are becoming more difficult for the average male to match,

then men may become more affected by these images, as many have suspected women

have been for decades. However, this researcher could find few studies that examined

how men are portrayed in the media. Those that did were at least a decade old and,

almost without exception, argued that appearance is not a salient issue for men; therefore,

their body image and self-esteem do not depend upon it. However, more recent studies









show that men are catching up with women when it comes to being dissatisfied with their

bodies, and again researchers point to the mass media as a potential source for this

dissatisfaction.

This study examined how men are being portrayed in popular men's magazines--

GQ, Rolling Stone, and Sports Illustrated--from 1967 to 1997. The researcher tallied the

number of pages in each magazine, how many of those pages contained masculine images

and determined whether these images could be analyzed using a male scale created by the

researcher. The male scale contained images representing eight different categories based

on body fat level and muscular definition. Codable images were then analyzed and

placed into one of the eight possible male scale categories.

The researcher concluded that, over the 30-year time period studied, male images

have become thinner and more muscularly defined. The data showed that the number of

V-Shaped images (those with a broad chest tapering to a narrowing waist) increased

through the 1970s and 1980s and then slightly decreased in the 1990s.
















CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION


American society embraces thinness as a cultural standard of attractiveness for

women, 1 and now boys and young men also are entering the world of objectified bodies

where "impossibly ideal shapes are displayed as imperatives."2 A leading expert in male

eating disorders, Dr. Arnold Andersen, conducted a 1985 study on the body images of

men and women. In his study, men responded that the ideal male body and their own

bodies were virtually identical, allowing men to feel comfortable with their weights.

Women, however, responded that their current figures were heavier than their ideal

figures, and Andersen attributed this to the cultural ideal of thinness women

experienced.3 However, a 1995 study indicated that males overestimate the muscular

definition of the ideal male body and inflate the chest size they believe women find most







1 Silverstein, Brett; Perdue, Lauren; Peterson, Barbara and Kelly, Eileen, "The Role of
the Mass Media in Promoting a Thin Standard of Bodily Attractiveness for Women,"
Sex Roles 14 (1986) 519.

2 Stacey, Michelle, "The Thin Man," Elle, Aug 1997, 178.

3 Andersen, Arnold E., Males with Eating Disorder, (Brunner/Mazel Inc, New York, NY,
1990)33.









attractive.4 Another study showed that men are catching up with women when it comes

to being dissatisfied with their bodies, with 55 percent of women dissatisfied with their

appearance versus 45 percent of men.5 Andersen now says, "We are seeing increases in

body-image distortion and distress in males."6 His observation comes while other

researchers are pointing to an "explosion of men's shape and fitness magazines in the past

decade"7 and at a time when men increasingly are opting for cosmetic surgery such as

liposuction for "love handles."8 A recent article in Men's Health reported a 35 percent

increase in the past four years in the number of men having plastic surgery.9 Men also

are increasingly using steroids to enhance their athletic performance and their

appearance. 10 In a survey of high school football players in Oregon, researchers found

that steroid use climbed from 1 percent in 1987 to 7 percent in 1991.11 But overall, very



4 Netemeyer and Adele as cited in Nentl, Nancy J. and Faber, Ronald J., "Where the Boys
Are: "Ad-Inspired Social Comparisons Among Male and Female Teens," unpublished
manuscript.

5 Neimark, Jill, "The Beefcaking of America," Psychology Today, Nov-Dec 1994, 32.

6 Stacey.

7 Stacey.

8 Stacey.

9 Kelly, Sara, "Wipe That Look Off Your Pace; Plastic Surgery," Men's Health, Sep
1997.

10 Neimark, 32.

11 Rojas-Burke, Joe, "Study Shows Steroid Program a Success," Eugene Register-Guard,
24 Nov, 1997.









little research has quantified these observations. This study was designed to analyze

media content to determine if an unrealistic cultural ideal of attractiveness has emerged

for men and to discover if men are being increasingly bombarded with that image.

Some researchers believe that mass media images of unrealistic cultural ideals of

attractiveness contribute to psychological distress and related disorders. 12 One

researcher found that women exposed to pictures of thin models reported lower self-

evaluations than when shown pictures of average or overweight models. 13 Another

researcher found that teenage girls compare themselves to models in advertisements more

than teenage boys and that they fantasize about looking like the models to whom they

compare themselves. However, she believes that as the media continue to feature

idealized male bodies, personal appearance may become more important for males and

cause them to make more "ad-inspired" comparisons. Further, she wonders whether

making these comparisons and fantasizing about looking like the models produces a

"longing so acute that it creates grave body image distortions and unhealthy eating or

compulsive exercising in an attempt to emulate the ideal."14








12 Zimmerman, Jill S., "An Image to Heal," The Humanist, Jan-Feb 1997, 20.

13 Irving, Lori, "Mirror Images: Effects of the Standard of Beauty on the Self- and Body-
Esteem of Women Exhibiting Varying Levels of Bulimic Symptom," Journal of Social
and Clinical Psychology, 9 (1990) 230.


14 Nentl and Faber.









Although estimates vary, health officials believe approximately seven million

females and one million males in the United States suffer from eating disorders.15

Ninety percent of adult patients are women; however, the number of male patients with

eating disorders is increasing and, in children, boys now account for 25 percent of the

cases.16 Andersen states that males with eating disorders have been "relatively ignored,

neglected, and dismissed because of statistical infrequency" or thought not to exist

because of theoretical beliefs. 17 While anorexia has been reported in Western society

since the 1600s and bulimia dates back 2000 years to the ancient Romans, only in this

century has society seen it spread in epidemic proportions. 18 While researchers tend to

agree that there is no single cause for eating disorders, these disorders predominantly

occur in developed Western societies. 19 While the mass media may not directly cause

eating disorders, they may be a contributor, and the explosive growth of the mass media

in the past few decades could explain why there have been more cases reported now than



15 The National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Assorted Disorders as cited in
Darnton, John, "'Skeletal' Models Create Furor Over British Vogue," The New York
Times, 3 June 1996.

16 "New York Online Access to Health, Eating Disoders:Anorexia and Bulimia
Nervosa", Dec 1997 (http://www.noah.cuny.edu/wellconn/eatdisorders.html,).

17 Andersen, Arnold, "Eating Disorders in Males," as reprinted in Eating Disorders and
Obesity: A Comprehensive Handbook, Brownell, Kelly D. and Bairburn, Christopher G.,
ed., (Guilford Publications Inc, NY, NY 1995) 177.

18 Field, Howard and Domangue, Barbara, Eating Disorders Throughout the Life Span,
(Praeger Publishers, New York, 1987) 31-32.

19 Lask, Bryan and Bryant-Waugh, Rachel, Childhood Onset Anorexia Nervosa and
Related Eating Disorders, (Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Ltd., 1993) 80.









ever before. Variables such as self-esteem, home life, obesity, family relationships and

structure, and feelings of control also could be contributors to eating disorders.20

In addition to eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorders are similar diseases

that involve body dissatisfaction and image. Researchers now call the trend in which

young men and some women are preoccupied with their degree of muscularity,

dissatisfied with their bodies, and are using anabolic steroids to change the look of their

bodies "reverse anorexia" or "muscle dysmorphia." It is unclear whether this type of

disorder is more common today or if it has simply become more recognized.21 Because

many people suffer from low self-esteem, eating disorders, and body dysmorphic

disorders, it is important to continue research that may explain how the mass media

directly or indirectly contribute to them.

Regardless of the fact that men and women may have different goals in reaching

the cultural ideal of attractiveness, both seem vulnerable to lowered self-esteem and body

image problems that may contribute to eating and body dysmorphic disorders as well as

high risk behaviors. Contradicting past research, a recent study that examined the body

shape satisfaction and self-esteem of a group of men and women found that the general

level of unhappiness with one's body was similar for both sexes. Also, body image and





20 Miller, Debra, "Correlates of Bulimia Nervosa: Early family Mealtime Experiences,"
Adolescence, Fall 1993, 621-635.

21 Pope, Jr., Harrison G.; Gruber, Amanda J.; Choi, Precilla; Olivardia, Roberto and
Phillips, Katherine, "Muscle Dysmorhpia, An Underecognized Form of Body
Dysmorphia Disorder," Psychosomatics, 38, Nov-Dec 1997, 548.









self-esteem were significantly correlated for both men and women.22 Andersen argues

that the ratio of diet articles found in popular women's magazines compared to those

found in men's magazines correlates almost exactly with the documented ratio of females

to males having eating disorders, both in the general population and at treatment centers.

In one study, Andersen found that magazines most frequently read by females contained

10 times as many diet articles and advertisements as in magazines read by men, and he

states that this "10-fold difference in diet-promoting content is almost identical to the

difference in the numbers of females vs. males with eating disorders."23 Many

researchers have conducted studies that showcase thinness as a criterion of attractiveness

for women in the mass media and have concluded that this standard is thinner now than

ever before.24 One researcher hypothesizes that the increased cultural attention given to

the male body and the increasing demands on men to achieve the ideal will result in more

men experiencing body dissatisfaction, preoccupation with weight, and concern with their

attractiveness and body shape now than even two decades ago. 25 And while eating

disorders in women are widely recognized, diagnosed and treated, doctors are less likely

to think of diagnosing eating disorders in men; therefore men are less likely than women


22 Abell, Steven and Richard, Maryse H., "The Relationship Between Body Shape
Satisfaction and Self-esteem: An Investigation of Gender and Class Differences," Journal
of Youth and Adolescence, 25 (1996) 699-700.

23 Andersen, Arnold and DiDomenico, Lisa, "Diet Vs. Shape Content of Popular Male
and Female Magazines: A Dose Response Relationship to the Incidence of Eating
Disorders?," The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 11 (1992) 285-6.

24 Silverstein, Perdue, Peterson and Kelly, 520.









to receive treatment.26 And "men succumb to eating disorders for some of the same

reasons as women--low self-esteem and poor body image."27 Because little research has

been conducted regarding eating disorders and body dissatisfaction with men as the focus,

a cultural standard of attractiveness for men is not well documented. This research will

help fill a void in the literature on the subject.

Until recently, the importance of physical attractiveness has been forced on

women primarily; but now with cultural changes in our society, men also are being told

what they should look like and how they can develop that look. Men usually are not

idealized in society for being thin as much as for having a particular shape, although

males who work in professions in which weight loss is a requirement appear to develop

eating disorders as frequently as a similar group of women.28 One study showed that one

of the most common reasons for dieting among men with eating disorders was to "to

develop the appearance of a model in a magazine."29 More men are dieting, exercising

and becoming compulsive about these activities-feeling guilty, depressed or anxious if

they skip a workout. Recent research suggests that "between the ages of thirteen and



25 Mishkind, Marc E.; Rodin, Judith; Silberstein, Lisa R. and Striegel-Moore, Ruth H.,
"The Embodiment of Maculinity," American Behavioral Scientist, May-June 1986, 552.
26 Andersen, (1995) 178-9.

27 Feducia, Stacy, "Men with Eating Disorders, women Aren't the Only Ones with A-
Anorexia and Bulimia," The Des Moines Register, 17 Nov 97.

28 Diagnostic Issues in Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, Garner, David and
Garfinkel, Paul, ed., (New York: Brunner/Mazel Inc., 1988) 198.

29 Garner and Garfinkel, Diagnostic Issues in Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa,
175.









thirty, one in approximately four hundred men have an eating disorder."30 One survey

found that 41 percent of high school boys are now dieting, compared to 4 to 24 percent in

past studies.31

Far more women than men suffer from eating disorders and body dissatisfaction;

however, men only recently have been subjected to a culture that emphasizes male

beauty. As a result, most of the research regarding these problems have women, not men,

as their focus.32 By quantifying a trend in the cultural ideal of attractiveness for men,

this research may allow others to discover how and how much the media contribute to

any increase in body dissatisfaction. While advertisers, models, modeling agencies, and

others in the entertainment industry do not disagree that there is a current standard of

thinness for women portrayed in the mass media, there is disagreement between these

groups about whether this standard is responsible directly or indirectly, if at all, for the

current epidemic of eating disorders among young women today. And while there is

extensive literature on women and eating disorders and whether the mass media

contribute to them, the questions of "how" and "how much" they contribute have not

been answered. Such research regarding the "infancy" of the male body-image






30 Sherman, Roberta and Thompson, Ron A., Bulimia, A Guide for Family and Friends,
(Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1990) 31.

31 Emmons, Lillian, "Dieting and purging behavior in black and white high school
students," Journal of the American Dietetic Association," (Mar 1992) 309-311.

32 Stacey.









phenomenon may also "expose some clues to the causes of women's distressed

relationship with food."33


33 Stacey.
















CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Definition of Terms


Two of the most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Anorexia nervosa is a "potentially life-threatening disorder characterized by the refusal

to eat enough to maintain body weight over a minimal norm for age and height, as well as

an intense fear of gaining weight, body image disturbances, and eventual amenorrhea

(temporary cessation of menstruation)."34 Men with anorexia often become impotent.35

This disorder occurs predominantly in females (95%) who may have certain predisposing

factors such as a stressful life situation or being a perfectionist/model child. Additionally,

about a third of those affected are mildly overweight before the onset of the illness. The

disorder is more common among sisters and mothers of women with the disorder than

those in the general population, and some studies have shown higher-than-expected









34 Harrison, Kristen, and Cantor, Joanne, "The Relationship Between Media
Consumption and Eating Disorders," Journal of Communication, 47 (1997) 40-41.

35 NIH Publication No. 93-3477, "Eating Disoders," U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, National Institute of Mental Health, January 1993.









frequencies of depression and bipolar disorder among relatives of people with anorexia.

36

Bulimia nervosa is defined as "a pattern of binging (eating large quantities of

food in discrete intervals of time) followed by attempts to compensate for the excessive

caloric intake by vomiting, using laxatives, severe restrictive dieting or fasting, or over

exercising."37 Again, more females than males have been diagnosed with this disease,

and adolescent obesity may be a predisposing factor. Frequently the parents of people

with this disorder are obese, and some studies suggest a higher-than-expected frequency

of depression in relatives of bulimics.38 The typical bulimic is female, white, young (in

her twenties), has a family with alcoholism and/or weight problems, and began exhibiting

symptoms in her late teens.39

Although these two diseases are different, they do have at least one thing in

common--people suffering from eating disorders are all most likely to evaluate









36 American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders, Third Ed., Revised, (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association,
1987) 66.

37 Harrison and Cantor, 40-41.

38 American Psychiatric Association, 68.

39 Schlesier-Stropp, Barbara "Bulimia: A Review of the Literature," Psychological
Bulletin, 91 (1984) 249.









themselves on only a single dimension: body shape equals self-esteem.40 Similarly,

both diseases can have fatal consequences.

Researchers are just beginning to refer to body dysmorphic disorders that involve

a "distressing or impairing preoccupation with a nonexistent or slight defect in body

appearance."41 "Muscle dysmorphia,"42 also known as "reverse anorexia," is a type

of body dysmorphic disorder and is a growing phenomena used to describe young men's

use of anabolic steroids to change the look of their bodies,43 while another researcher

defines it as "the fear and belief of being small, when actually large and muscular."44

Muscle dysmorphia can occur in both genders but is more common in males. Those

suffering from the disorder engage in behaviors such as "lifting weights, eating large

amounts of food and special diets, mirror checking, constant comparison with others,

reassurance-seeking behavior, camouflaging with clothing, and wearing extra layers of






40 "Shifting Symptom, Portrait of a Binge Eater," Psychology Today, Mar-April 1992,
15.
41 Phillips, McElroy, Keck, and et al, as cited in Pope, Jr., Harrison G.; Gruber, Amanda
J.; Choi, Precilla; Olivardia, Roberto and Phillips, Katharine, "Muscle Dysmorhpia, An
Underecognized Form of Body Dysmorphi Disorder," Psychosomatics, 38, Nov -Dec
1997, 548.

42 Pope, Gruber, Choi, Olivardia, and Phillips, 548.

43 Stacey, Michelle, "The Thin Man," Elle, Aug 1997, 178.

44 Pope, Jr, Harrison; Katz, David L. and Hudsonn, James I., "Anorexia Nervosa and
'Reverse Anorexia' Among 108 Male Bodybuilders." Comprehensive Psychiatry, 34
(1993) 406.









clothing to enhance their apparent size."45 Also, they tend to experience impaired

relationships because of embarrassment about their bodies.

Body image is defined as the view or concept of one's own body, including what

one sees when one looks from the outside or "...our reflection in the mirror perhaps or

our impression on the bathroom scales."46 One's body image is formed in part by how

we compare ourselves to others; an important part of the self-definition process is

comparing oneself to others in a social environment.47

Social Comparison Theory-An Overview


In 1954, Dr. Leon Festinger based his Social Comparison Theory on two

assumptions. First, humans have a drive to evaluate accurately their opinions and

abilities, and second, social comparisons occur when there is no objective physical way to

evaluate oneself. He also believed that in the absence of physical or social comparisons,

self-evaluations are unstable, and that comparisons tend to be made with people who are

similar to oneself in ability or opinion.48 Once the comparison is made, assuming that

the person wants to be similar and ranks the other as superior, the existence of a

discrepancy between oneself and the comparison will lead to an action on the part of the



45 Pope, Gruber, Choi, Olivardia, and Phillips, 550.
46 Arkoff, Abe, Psychology of Personal Growth, Third Ed., (Newton, MA: Allyn and
Bacon, Inc, 1988) 40.

47 Osborne, Randall E., Self: An Eclectic Approach, (Simon & Schuster, Needham
Heights, MA, 1996) 64.

48 Festinger, Leon, "A Theory of Social Comparison Processes, Human Relations, 7
(1954) 117-119.









person doing the comparing in order to reduce the discrepancy.49 For example, a runner

may compare his time to run a certain distance to another runner's time to evaluate how

fast he can run, then train harder to improve his performance. A person who compares

himself to a "model painstakingly prepared to appear attractive" is likely to evaluate his

own attractiveness negatively50 and to decide to diet or make a purchase to improve his

looks.

Social comparison that occurs when an average person compares himself to a

carefully crafted picture of a model can be called "upward comparison." Upward

comparison occurs when a person compares himself to others who are superior to or

better off than himself.51 While these comparisons may tend to be unfavorable to one's

self-concept, they can lead to self enhancement or self improvement. 52 In Western

culture, there is a value in what is better--for example, a higher score on a test is more

desirable than a lower score. There is continuous pressure to do and be better and better in

society. This pressure dissipates on people who are better than average, but not everyone

can be better off than everyone else, so for most, the pressure never stops.53 The



49 Festinger, 124.
50 Irving, Lori, "Mirror Images: Effects of the Standard of Beauty on the Self- and Body-
Esteem of Women Exhibiting Varying Levels of Bulimic Symptom," Journal of Social
and Clinical Psychology, 9 (1990) 231.

51 Wood and Taylor as cited in Suls, Jerry and Wills, Thomas Ashby, Social
Comparison: Contemporary Theory and Research, (Lawrence Erlbaum Associate, Inc.
Hillsdale, NJ, 1991) 23.

52 Wills as cited in Suls and Wills, 70.

53 Festinger, 125.









pressure toward uniformity also can be seen as one toward a cultural ideal, such as the

influence on women in Western society to be thin. Thinness as a cultural ideal of

attractiveness is often apparent in the mass media and is obvious in phrases such as, "You

can never be too rich or too thin." In one study, women were asked to rate what they

thought was the cultural ideal and how close their bodies came to reaching it. The

cultural ideal was found to be very thin, and the farther away from the ideal the women

rated themselves, the more their body satisfaction declined.54 A similar study using men

as subjects found that the male ideal body is mesomorphic or very muscular, as opposed

to ectomorphic (very thin) or endomorphic (very fat), and that those who rated themselves

as closest to the ideal were happier with their bodies.55

According to Festinger, a person can avoid comparing himself to ideas or opinions

that are different than his own by rejecting the people in the group who hold those

differing opinions. This is possible only when a group has a range of opinions. For

example, in one experiment one person out of a group of three was given a high

intelligence score. The other two lower-scoring people in the group stopped competing

with the person with the high score and only competed with each other. Because there

was a range of scores, they were able to reject the person with the score higher than their







54 Davis, Leslie L., "Perceived Somatotype, Body Cathexis, and Attitudes Toward
Clothing Among College Females," Perceptual and Motor Skills, 61 (1985) 1202.

55 Tucker, Larry, "Relationship between Perceived Somatotype and Body Cathexis of
College Males," Psychological Reports, 50 (1982) 983.









own.56 However, if thinness for women and a muscular, V-shaped body for men are the

cultural ideals and if the mass media portray only a narrow range in this cultural ideal, it

may not be possible to reject these images and not compare oneself to them. When the

person doing the comparing finds he falls short of the cultural ideal, he will feel pressure

to reduce the discrepancy between himself and that ideal. Finally, an increase in the

importance of an ability or opinion or an increase in its relevance to immediate behavior

will increase the pressure toward reducing discrepancies concerning opinions or ability.

The more attractive the group or ideal is to a person, the more pressure that person will

experience concerning uniformity to the group ideal.57

Festinger mainly discussed social comparisons in relation to opinions and abilities

of similar others. However, other theorists, such as Dr. Lori Irving, have expanded his

1954 theory. She used social comparison theory to explain that physical attractiveness is

one way people compare themselves to others, and she argued that these comparisons also

can be made against images in the mass media. In one study she found that women gave

their bodies lower evaluations after being exposed to pictures of thin models.58 She

called this example of reporting lower self-evaluations after an upward comparison

"contrast effects." Contrast effects occur when the judgment about one person or object

is altered by the judgment about another person or object. One example is overestimating

the weight of a heavy object after an initial experience with a lighter object. Or, as



56 Festinger, 129.
57 Festinger, 130-131.

58 Irving, 230.









another researcher confirmed, contrast effects occur when subjects were asked to evaluate

their own attractiveness after viewing pictures of attractive or unattractive models. When

viewing unattractive same-sex models, the subjects evaluated their own attractiveness as

greater than if they viewed attractive same-sex models.59

Other researchers have found more evidence for contrast effects. When subjects

compared themselves to attractive peers, they rated themselves as less attractive.

Interestingly, when the same people compared themselves to professional models, a

contrast effect did not occur. The researcher pointed out that, although this study did not

support contrast effects in this case, one "cannot rule out potential effects of long-term

media exposure to cultural standards of beauty."60

Women, and now maybe men, have been exposed to an increasing emphasis on

the value of physical attractiveness through the mass media. Media images have

exploded in huge proportions in the 1990s compared to the 1950s when Festinger first

posited his theory. While no one succumbs to the cultural ideal from seeing one media

image, seeing repeated media images, combined with other risk factors, may explain why

some women and men develop eating disorders and/or abuse steroids and develop

distorted body images. There is some evidence that people with high self-esteem engage




59 Brown, Jonathan D.; Novick, Natalie J.; Lord, Kelley A. and Richards, Jane M.,
"When Gulliver Travels: Social Context, Psychological Closeness, and Self-Appraisals,"
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62 (1992) 717.
60 Garner, Garfinkel, Scwartz, and Thompson, 1980, Kenrick and Gutierres, 1980, as
quoted in Cash, Thomas F.; Cash, Diane Walker and Butters, Jonathan W., "Mirror,
Mirror on the Wall,,,? Contrast Effects and Self-Evaluations of Physical Attractiveness,"
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 9 (1983) 354-55.









more in self-enhancing comparisons than do those with lower self-esteem.61 And when

these high self-esteem people do engage in upward comparison, they usually do so for an

incentive to change and improve, with a positive effect on their self-esteem. So while

self-esteem can be lowered by social comparisons, those who make more upward social

comparisons often have lower self-esteem to begin with. Lack of self-esteem and self-

worth are two of the major contributors to eating disorders. Other major contributors to

eating disorders include an excessive concern with dieting and weight62 and an excessive

concern with attaining lean body mass, the latter of which is also a major contributor to

steroid abuse.63 Both behaviors could be seen as a way to bridge the gap of discrepancy

between one's body and the cultural ideal.

Women, Mass Media and Eating Disorders


Media Portrayals

Until recently, most research concerning cultural ideals of attractiveness in the

media and their effects has focused on how the ideal affects women. This researcher

could find few studies that examined how men are portrayed in the media. Those that did

were at least a decade old and, almost without exception, expressed the view that

appearance is not a salient issue for men; therefore their body image and self-esteem do



61 Wheeler, Ladd and Miyake, Kunitate, "Social Comparison in Everyday Life," Journal
of Personality and Social Psychology, 62 (1992)760.
62 Garner, David; Olmstead, Marion and Polivy, Janet, "Development and Validation of
a Multidimensional Eating Disorder Inventory for Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia,"
International Journal of Eating Disorders, Winter 1983, 18.

63 Blouin, Arthur G. and Goldfield, Gary S., "Body Image and Steroid Use in Male
Bodybuilders," International Journal of Eating Disorders, 18, (1995) 159.









not depend upon it. Now, however, some researchers are starting to see increased distress

in men where their bodies are concerned, at a time when many speculate that men are

being more objectified in the media.64 Although the ideal body is different for men and

women, general unhappiness with one's body is similar. 65 Since there is such a gap in

the research concerning men, reviewing the literature available on women may help

explain the body image distortion and distress some medical experts believe are

increasing in men. 66

In the literature on women and the media, researchers have noted, primarily

through content analyses, that in the media there is a combined emphasis on food and

appearance for girls and women, which may support the idea that the media influence

eating disorders.67 Not only were advertisements for females focused more on

enhancing appearances than those directed at males, but the standard of attractiveness

portrayed in the media, as of 1986, was slimmer for women than for men. Additionally,

the recent standard for women portrayed in magazines and movies is slimmer now than in






64 Stacey.

65 Abell, Steven and Richard, Maryse H., "The Relationship Between Body Shape
Satisfaction and Self-esteem: An Investigation of Gender and Class Differences," Journal
of Youth and Adolescence, 25 (1996) 700.

66 Stacey.

67 Olgetree, Shirley M; Williamson, Sue W.; Raffeld, Paul; Mason, Bradley and Fricke,
Kris, "Female Attractiveness and Eating Disorders: Do Children's Television
Commercials Play a Role?," Sex Roles, 22 (1990) 791.









the past.68 Women were portrayed as slimmer than men in television shows as well.

When male and female television characters were rated for weight and age in 1986, the

results showed that 69 percent of the women were rated as thin, but only 17 percent of the

males were rated as thin. Only 5 percent of the women were rated as heavy, but 25

percent of the male characters were rated as heavy.69

In U.S. history, the highest reported prevalence of eating disorders occurred in the

1920s and again in the 1980s, the two periods in which the "ideal woman" was

thinnest.70 One content analysis of photographs from Ladies Home Journal and Vogue

from 1901 to 1981 shows that these were the two time periods when women were

portrayed as thinner than at any other time. Bust-to-waist ratios dropped at the beginning

of the century, with the lowest point in 1925, then increased until 1949, after which it

steadily decreased again until reaching the 1920s level again in the late 1960s and

1970s.71

But while media characters are thinner, Americans are getting fatter. In 1983, 58

percent of adults weighed more than is recommended, and by 1992, that number had

increased to 63 percent.72 While average American women are getting heavier, their



68Silverstein, Perdue, Peterson and Kelly, 519.

69Silverstein, Perdue, Peterson and Kelly, 523.

70 M. Boskin-White and W. C. White as cited in Harrison and Cantor, 41.

71Silverstein, Perdue, Peterson and Kelly, 528.

72 Walker, Chip, "Fat and Happy?", American Demographics, Jan 1993, 53.









prevailing role models are getting lighter.73 In another study, college women's and

models' weights were compared, showing only a difference of approximately 4 pounds--

the models' average weight equaled 122.8 pounds compared to college women's average

weight of 126.2 pounds. However, the models' average height was 69.5 inches, nearly 5

inches taller than the average college woman, whose average height was 64.9 inches.

This is striking because the models' height advantage should have generated weights

approximately 15-25 pounds higher than those of the college women studied. In addition,

the college women in the study had lower body weights, on average, than the average

American woman, who stands 64 inches high and weighs 144 pounds.74 The study's

author suggested that, since the models were significantly taller than average-sized

women, "perhaps they can consume higher caloric intake than the average-sized women

and yet still maintain thin bodies. The slender figures of female fashion models are best

viewed as lying at the extreme of the normal distribution of body types rather than as the

product of excessive dieting behavior."75 However, a team of Brandeis University

psychologists disagreed, stating that cultural expectations of unrealistic thinness affect all

women, and they cite the above study with a different interpretation of the results. They






73 Garner, David; Garfinkel, Paul; Schwartz, Donald and Michael Thompson, "Cultural
Expectations of Thinness in Women," Psychological Reports, 47 (1980) 490.
74 The National Center for Health Statistics as cited in Walker, 55.

75 Brenner, Jennifer B. and Cunningham, Joseph G., "Gender Differences in Eating
Attitudes, Body Concept, and Self-Esteem Among Models," Sex Roles, 27 (1992) 421-
430.









call attention to the fact that 73 percent of female models maintained weights that fell

below the lower limits of conservative recommendations of ideal body weight ranges.76

Another study reported a significant decrease in the body measurements and

weights of Playboy centerfolds and Miss America contestants from 1959 to 1978. Not

only did the overall weights of pageant contestants decrease, but the winners weighed

significantly less than the other contestants.77 An update of that study showed that the

slimming trend continued from 1979 to 1988. Interestingly, 69 percent of the Playboy

centerfolds and 60 percent of the pageant contestants weighed 15 percent less than what

is considered their ideal weight. This trend is alarming because, according to the

American Psychiatric Association, being at least 15 percent below one's expected body

weight is considered a symptom of anorexia nervosa.78

Women not only are being bombarded with these images of near-anorexic

women, but they also are faced with a plethora of diet articles and weight loss

information, alongside portrayals of fattening foods. "In the schizophrenic 1990s,

women's magazines routinely show two sides of the same coin: a gooey, fat-laden

chocolate cake recipe placed next to an advertisement for Slimfast; [with] 'How the Stars

Fight Fat' diet tips across the page from an article on anorexia nervosa."79 One content


76 "Models 'R' Us. Eating Disorders," Psychology Today, Jan-Feb 1992, 11.
77 Garner, Garfinkel, Schwartz and Thompson, 490.

78 Wiseman, Claire V.; Gray, James; Mosimann, James and Ahrens, Anthony, "Cultural
Expectations of Thinness in Women, An Update," International Journal of Eating
Disorders, 11 (1992) 87.

79 Zimmerman, Jill S., "An Image to Heal," The Humanist, Jan-Feb 1997, 20.









study analyzed children's television commercials and found that 60.6 percent of the

commercials were for food without either gender being specifically targeted. However,

the commercials that focused on enhancing the appearance of a person, doll, or animal

were overwhelmingly (86.4%) targeted toward girls.80

Another content analysis evaluated four of the most popular women's magazines

and four men's magazines. Articles and ads were evaluated for their messages about

staying in shape and dieting, and about food. The results showed that women received

more messages to be slim and stay in shape than did men. Women also were exposed to

more food advertisements; ads for all foods appeared in the women's magazines 118

times more often than in men's magazines-1,179 compared to 10. The only food item for

which men were exposed to more advertising than women was alcohol-men's magazines

carried 624 alcoholic beverage ads while women's magazines carried 19.81

Ellen McCracken criticizes women's magazines for sending contradictory

messages to women. She notes that in the magazine .\lihiner, numerous articles are about

diet and exercise, pushing women toward slimness. However, in the September 1981

issue, a book review featured several diet and exercises books but ended with two

fattening dessert cookbooks, noting "we all deserve a little sweetness in our lives."82

Young women are faced with this contradiction daily in the media. Television reflects



80 Olgetree, Williamson, Raffeld, Mason and Fricke, 795

81 Silverstein, Perdue, Peterson and Kelly, 525-526.

82 McCracken, Ellen, Decoding Women's Magazines, From Mademoiselle to Ms., (New
York: St. Martin's Press, 1993) 264.









this cultural contradiction by promoting food consumption and leanness. Some think that

bulimia is an adaptive response to this contradiction because only bulimics can eat

everything they wish and remain thin.83 Advertisers do not dispute that, since the 1980s,

there has been a trend toward the increased use of health and weight loss claims by food

manufacturers in their food advertisements in women's magazines. Some researchers

speculate that this may be due to changes in women's eating and dieting behavior that

have created an increased demand for food high in nutrition and low in calories.84

The ideal figure in such ads has moved beyond the half-starved Twiggy image to a

Bionic Woman ideal that requires just as much money, time, and effort.85 According to

Dr. Joseph McVoy, the director of a Virginia eating-disorder clinic, the ideal woman

today not only has to be thin, but also has to have large breasts and muscular arms for a

"Madonna-like look."86 Another author agrees, saying, "Picture for yourself the ideal

woman in the dominant culture of America today; she is thin, shapely or muscular,








83 Dietz, William, "You Are What You Eat What You Eat is What You Are," Journal
of Adolescent Health Care, 11 (1990) 76.

84 Klassen, Michelle; Wauer, Suzanne and Cassel, Sheila, "Increases in Health and
Weight Loss Claims in Food Advertising in the 1980s," Journal of Advertising Research,
(Dec 1990-Jan 1991) 36.

85 Avenosa, Karen, "Trapped by Self-Actualization, Young women Shape Up at the
Expense of Greater Goals," Advertising Age, 23 Nov 1992, 18.

86 Walker, 55.









white, able-bodied, smooth-skinned, young and glamorous. Media images encourage us

to strive to achieve that body-beautiful ideal."87

The Advertising/Entertainment Industries' Viewpoints

"The media play an important role as cultural gatekeepers, framing standards of

beauty for all of us by the models they choose."88 Fashion and beauty editors decide

what images society is exposed to in the media. They are important cultural gatekeepers

who create media messages and indirectly teach members of the general public how to

think about physical attractiveness.89 The modeling agencies agree that the current trend

is for thin girls. Corinne Nicolas, an executive for the Elite modeling agency, attributed

this demand to the advertisers, saying, "That's what is selling-the advertisers decide;

they are the ones who hire our talent."90 One advertiser, the Omega Watch Corporation,

did decide at least temporarily. In June 1996, the company threatened to pull its

advertising from British Vogue because of photos of two models, Trisha Goff and Annie

Morton, featured in an eight-page fashion spread. Giles Reese, marketing manager for




87 Boston Women's Health Book Collective, Our Bodies, Ourselves, (New York, NY:
Touchstone, 1992) 23-24.

88 Garner, David M., "The 1997 Body Image Survey Results," Psychology Today, Jan-
Feb 1997, 30.

89 Solomon, Michael R.; Ashmore, Richard D. and Longo, Laura C., "'The Beauty
Match-up Hypothesis: Congruence Between Types of Beauty and Product Images in
Advertising," Journal of Advertising, December 1992, 23.

90 Darnton, John, "' Skeletal' Models Create Furor over British Vogue," The New York
Times, 3 June 1996.









Omega, said in a letter to the magazine that he was "appalled" by the "extremely

distasteful pictures" of the models

not just because they were so thin, but because the layout 'made every effort to accentuate
this attribute.' Although the next day the company reversed its decision to pull its
advertising, citing that 'it is not in anybody's interest to influence the editorial position of
any given media,' this was the first time those in the fashion industry could recall a major
advertiser objecting publicly to the models' appearance because their appearance might
encourage unhealthy behavior such as eating disorders.91


Those in the fashion industry state that models, especially British ones, have been

getting slimmer, and they specifically mention British model Kate Moss, who modeled

for Calvin Klein and popularized the waif look.92 However, an article that appeared in

Vogue later in that same year classified Kate Moss as "slender enough to appeal to

fashion designers and photographers, while not by any medical measure anorexic."93

While the Eating Disorders Association praised Omega's efforts, the Elite Model

Management, the agency for Trisha Goff, called the controversy ridiculous, saying the

model looks the same as she always has and eats well.94 In 1996, Harper's Bazaar's

Tina Gaudin said that models like Kate Moss and others may not make women feel good







91 Damton.

92 Damton.

93 Johnson, Rebecca, "The Body Myth (Why People Are Angry Over Thin Models),"
Vogue, Sept 1996, 653.

94 Damton.









about themselves, but that a lean, slightly muscular body type is in fashion, and she

expected readers to be seeing more of this type of model.95

Not everyone involved in fashion would agree with Gaudin's attitude toward

women and how they feel about the ads and models they see. Some Madison Avenue

advertising agencies are hiring feminist consultants to evaluate advertisements that may

be considered offensive to women.96 The Nike corporation, recognizing that baby

boomers become fatter as they become grayer, has developed new advertisements based

on self-like, not anxiety. One of them tells readers that "someday, since you are human,

you will notice your body has changed ... and your kneecaps will look more like Winston

Churchill than ever before."97 Similarly, Michelob Light advertisements have featured

headlines torn from other media such us "Lose Fat While You Shop," or "Perfect Arms

in 14 Days." They end the ad with a tagline that, like the Nike ads, focuses on self-like:

"Relax. You're O.K. Improve your beer." 98 However, these advertisements are the

minority in American's thinness-driven society. Women with proportions similar to Kate

Moss and Cindy Crawford are still the most prevalent in the advertising and

entertainment industries.

These two women and models like them are the object of some people's rage.

According to one author, "Hostility against thin people is at an all-time high, and fashion


95 Zimmerman, 20.
96 Ford, John and LaTour, Michael, "Differing Reactions to Female Role Portrayals in
Advertising," Journal of Advertising Research, Sep-Oct 1993, 43.

97 Walker, 56.

98 Walker, 56.









models are taking the brunt of the criticism."99 However, fashion models are also

subject to societal pressures to be thin. Model Carol Alt was quoted in People as saying,

"Anyone who thinks society pressures women to live up to our image should think of

what we have to go through to maintain that image."100 Some fashion models report

turning to severe measures to achieve and maintain the super-model standard. Barbara

Gallant, an aspiring model, dieted down to 100 pounds, had a nose job, dyed her hair, had

braces put on her teeth, and endured a medical procedure to smooth out her hips and

thighs, all so she could become a model.101 And models are not the only women in the

media who go to great lengths to keep their perfect looks. Actors and even celebrities

like talk-show host Oprah Winfrey follow extreme regimens to maintain their weight.

Winfrey's routine includes two daily four-mile runs, plus 45 minutes on the Stairmaster

and 350 sit-ups. Pamela Anderson Lee's Baywatch contract included a stipulation that

specifically forbade her from gaining weight. 102

Although they may be concerned with keeping thin, in one study models were

found to have higher self-esteem than college women. It appeared that the models' low

body weights were associated with higher self-esteem and body satisfaction and that their






99 Johnson, 653

100 Zimmerman.

101 Zimmerman.

102 Zimmerman.









low weights were not associated with excessive dieting or eating-disordered behavior. 103

But other studies have yielded completely opposite findings. A study conducted with a

population of professional dancers and models indicated that anorexia and excessive

dieting concerns were over-represented in these people, suggesting that pressures to be

slim are risk factors for this disease. 104

Jill Zimmerman has noted that some models display less-than-solid self-esteem.

Model Cindy Crawford admitted in Vogue that she feels self-conscious about her arms

when she compares herself to colleague Linda Evangelista. Evangelista told interviewers

she would like to "remove two ribs-or just shrink the size of my rib cage." Furthermore,

Zimmerman criticized some models for their diet advice to the public, most notably

1970s supermodel Cheryl Tiegs, who once advised women how to start a diet: "Before

you go on a serious diet, I recommend that you eat all the food you can manage for three

solid days. The point is to overdo it, knowing that you will never overeat again."105

Twenty years ago, readers wrote to Vogue editors, thanking them for presenting

ideals like those super-models represent:

Dear Editor: The female body is an art in itself, and seeing all the sleek, slim bodies
photographed artistically, I find myself wishing that I, too, could look like that. Now I
find that I have the ambition to start that all-important diet and begin exercising
regularly-THANK YOU! 106

103 Brenner and Cunningham, 434.

104 Garner, David and Garfinkel, Paul, "Socio-Cultural Factors in the Development of
Anorexia Nervosa," Psychological Medicine, 10 (1980) 647.

105 Zimmerman.

106 Johnson, 654.











Today, letters from women express outrage over the models they see in the pages

of fashion magazines. One such reader wrote:

Dear Editor: I have always considered your magazine to be reputable and in good taste,
so I was extremely disappointed upon seeing the enclosed picture of one of your models.
This woman looks deathly ill from anorexia. YOUas a leader in the world of fashion
have a responsibility to stop portraying sickly thin models as desirable. You have lost
one consumer. 107

According to the results of a 1997 body image survey in Psychology Today,

women and men use their own personal feelings about their weight, interpersonal

relationships, and cultural icons such as movie celebrities and models as factors that

shape their body image. 108 Also, nearly two out of five women and one of five men say

images of fashion models make them feel angry and resentful. And 40 percent of women

and 30 percent of men say the models' images make them feel insecure. As a whole,

women and men are saying they want to see models who are more representative of the

natural range of body types. 109

Media as Possible Causes/Contributors to Self-esteem, Body Image Distortion and Eating
Disorders

Although some women are expressing outrage over the slender figures they see in

magazines and in the media in general, others desire to be as thin as the images they are

exposed to. In a column in The New York Times, one author stated that "few


107 Johnson, 654.

108 Garner, 36.

109 Garner, 30.









psychologists doubt that the imperative to be thin, emphasized daily in ads, movies and

on television, contributes heavily to eating disorders."I 10 Dr. Terrence Wilson, a

psychologist at Rutgers University, is quoted in the column as saying, "The desire to fit

the cultural ideal of thinness drives many women to diet severely...In some vulnerable

young women, this leads to bingeing and purging, or to self-starvation."' 11 Others agree,

proposing that eating disorders occur when people become preoccupied with how fat they

believe themselves to be and then exert extreme measures to control their weight. Some

research indicates that eating disorders are outgrowths of a negative body image and that

the diseases are related to today's pressure on women to conform to ultra-slender beauty

role models. 112 By making thinness the cultural ideal, many people are pushed to view

normal healthy body weight as "fat." 113 Negative feelings about one's body have been

shown to carry over into other psycho-social functioning and have been correlated with

anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. 114 The impact of the media on women is

greater for those who are dissatisfied with their bodies and who weigh more than the

cultural ideal than for women who are satisfied with their bodies. This could be because




110 Damton.
111 Damton.

112 Gamer, 30.

113 Whitney, E.; Cataldo, C.B. and Rolfes, S., Understanding Normal and Clinical
Nutrition, Fourth Ed., (St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Co., 1994) 286.

114 Klesges, R.; Mintz, L., Betz, N.; Mcauley, M.; Minz, L.; Glenn, A; Secord, P.;
Jourard, S. and Tucker, L. as cited in Brenner and Cunningham, 415









satisfied women compare themselves to models less than half as often as dissatisfied

women. 115

Many women who have what would be considered a normal healthy body weight

have been exposed to this cultural ideal of thinness for most of their lives. One study that

evaluated the bust-to-waist ratios of photographs in two magazines documents that, since

1965, this ratio has consistently remained small. Thus, a 30-year-old woman today has

been exposed to a non-curvaceous standard since she was 11 years old. This provides

some support for the notion that the current standard of bodily attractiveness for women

in the media may have contributed to the recent epidemic of eating disorders among

women. 116 But others disagree. Some clinicians who treat patients with eating disorders

say that photographs of models have some influence on their patients, but that it is too

simplistic to say that the media culture causes anorexia. For an anorexic, they argue, "the

goal of thinness is not to be attractive. It's more about being in control."' 17

Some researchers acknowledge that cultural pressures can make women

vulnerable to eating disorders. One study indicated that the mass media promote

standards of thinness that are impossible for most women to achieve, resulting in a

pursuit of thinness that can have devastating consequences in terms of lowered self-

esteem, excessive dieting practices and the emergence of eating disorders. This study

found that the kinds of television programs watched were more important than how often



115 Garner, 30.

116 Silverstein, Perdue, Peterson, and Kelly, 525-528.

117 Johnson, 655.









television is viewed. Although viewing soaps, movies, and sports all predicted body

dissatisfaction, only watching music videos predicted a "Drive for Thinness," a primary

indicator for anorexia nervosa, according to the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI), which

assesses the attitudinal and behavioral characteristics of eating disorders. 118 The current

epidemic of body dissatisfaction and emergence of eating disorders may be a result of

society's ideal of thinness, and one way this can be transmitted is through the mass

media. 119

The EDI measures several constructs that have been thought to indicate

psychological characteristics related to eating disorders. 120 The Drive for Thinness, as

mentioned above, indicates excessive concern with dieting, preoccupation with weight,

and entrenchment in an extreme pursuit of thinness. However, researchers found that,

although women with or without eating disorders can exhibit a Drive for Thinness, the

most important difference was that women with anorexia nervosa were "significantly

more pathological on the Ineffectiveness and Interoceptive Awareness dimensions of the

EDI. 121 Ineffectiveness is defined as feelings of general inadequacy, insecurity,

worthlessness, and the feeling of not being in control of one's life. Interoceptive


118 Bordo, Susan, Unbearable Weight, Feminism, Western Culture, and The Body.
(University of California Press, 1993) 52-54.

119 Tiggemann, Marika and Pickering, Amanda, "Role of Television in Adolescent
Women's Body Dissatisfaction and Drive for Thinness," International Journal of Eating
Disorders, 20 (1996) 199-202.

120 Garner, Olmstead, and Polivy, 16.

121 Garner, Olmstead, and Polivy, 32.









Awareness reflects one's lack of confidence in recognizing and accurately identifying

emotions and sensations of hunger and satiety.122 This coincides with the findings of

Hilde Bruch, a pioneer in eating-disorder therapy, who recognized similar characteristics

that cause confusion about body sensation-an "all-pervasive sense of ineffectiveness, and

a disturbed body image."123

Not all women exposed to these cultural pressures develop eating disorders. Most

theorists and clinicians readily agree that these disorders are multidimensional, and they

claim that non-cultural factors are required to produce an eating disorder in any specific

individual. 124 One group of researchers, who studied how elastic and distorted young

women's body images would become after watching televisions ads and programming,

tried to apply Cultivation Theory to explain their results--predicting that the young

women in the study would adopt the "mainstream" view of social reality. In this case the

"mainstream" view is the cultural ideal of a thin female body. However, this theory does

not fully explain the complex cognitive process that is involved in forming one's body

image. 125

A more recent study applied Social Learning Theory as an explanation of why

women turn to disordered eating. This study reported that social learning was expected to


122 Garner, Olmstead, and Polivy, 18.
123 Bruch, Hilde, Conversations with Anorexics, (New York: Basic Book Inc, 1988) 4.

124 Bordo, 52-54.

125 Myers, Jr., Phillip N. and Biocca, Frank A., "The Elastic Image: The Effect of
Television Advertising and Programming on Body Image Distortions in Young Women,"
Journal of Communication, (1992) 130.









be more related to anorexic behaviors than bulimia because women could learn anorexia

by modeling dieting and exercise behaviors but could not learn bulimia because there are

few models of bingeing and purging behaviors. 126 However, tests showed that anorexic

and bulimic women were not significantly different, although anorexic women were

found to expose themselves to more fitness magazines and television shows depicting

thin actors.127 It is unclear if women who exhibit eating disorders symptoms selectively

expose themselves to more thinness-depicting media or if they were first exposed to this

type of media, then began exhibiting eating disorder symptoms. 128 As an example, when

a writer for Vogue interviewed three girls recovering from eating disorders at the Renfrew

Center, an eating disorders clinic in Philadelphia, they told her that their therapists often

encouraged them to write to editors of fashion magazines criticizing their choice of

models. But when she asked them if any of them thought their problems with food could

be traced to the media or images of models, they all answered no. 129

Jill Zimmerman's experiences with girls suffering from eating disorders are far

different than the Vogue interviews. Zimmerman, a psychotherapist specializing in

women's issues, wishes those in the advertising and entertainment industries could have

observed her session with a young girl who "was severely bulimic in her frenzy to get

down to Crawford's well-publicized 120 pounds" and strongly believes the media is


126 Harrison and Cantor, 61.

127 Harrison and Cantor, 61.

128 Harrison and Cantor, 62.

129 Johnson, 657-658.









instrumental in women developing eating disorders. Zimmerman noted that at a

Princeton University conference, when asked whether or not models cause eating

disorders, Cindy Crawford responded with the question, "Do you look at pictures of me

and want to puke?" In response to Crawford's question, Zimmerman states that the

modeling and advertising industries are either not hearing or not paying attention to a

deafening "Yes!" from the seven million American girls and women who suffer from

eating disorders. 130 Another study found that women with or without high levels of

eating disorder symptoms reported that the greatest amount of pressure to be thin comes

from the media, followed by peers, and finally family. However, the symptomatic

women reported greater amounts of pressure from all three categories than the women

who did not exhibit high levels of eating disorder symptoms. 131

Another way to explain why some women display symptoms of eating disorders

while others do not, even if they are exposed to the same mass media, is to use a risk

factor model for eating disorders. This model can be compared to risks associated with

heart disease. It is recognized that there are a number of risk factors, such as heredity,

smoking, and obesity, that contribute to heart disease. Any one factor increases the

likelihood of heart disease occurring, and more than one factor "raises the risk









130 Zimmerman.


131Irving, 230-9.









exponentially." 132 Similarly, although there are some women with enough risk factors

who would become anorexic without the media's and society's ideal of a thin female

body, there are others who might not otherwise develop an eating disorder but do when

media exposure is added as a risk factor. Many possible risk factors for developing an

eating disorder have been identified, and currently there is no way to know if one factor is

of greater or lesser importance than the others. 133 Of those who do develop eating

disorders, only some risk factors may be present in any individual, and for these

individuals, the exact nature of and relationship between the factors will vary. 134

Men, Mass Media and Eating Disorders


Media Portrayals

While most of the literature reviewed thus far reflects the idea that female images

of perfection permeate the mass media and that these images have an impact on young

women, one researcher has asked why the new glamorized ideal of manhood should not

affect young men in similar ways. This researcher points out that these images of

beautiful men are having an effect on the growing number of young males who are

beginning to suffer from complaints previously seen as exclusively female, such as





132 Schwartz, Donald; Thompson, Michale and Johnson, Craig, "Anorexia Nervosa and
Bulimia: The Socio-Cultural Context, International Journal of Eating Disorders, 1 (1982)
27.
133 Schwartz, Thompson, and Johnson, 27.

134 Lask, Bryan and Bryant-Waugh, Rachel, Childhood Onset Anorexia Nervosa and
Related Eating Disorders, (Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Ltd., 1993) 69.









feelings of insecurity and preoccupation with their body image. 135 While recent muscle

dysmorphia research has been conducted on both genders, most eating disorder research

has been targeted at women because women far outnumber men in contracting these

diseases. Past research points to differing sociocultural environments from birth between

genders in regard to reinforcements for dieting and weight loss; men and women perceive

fatness and ideals of shape differently.136 However, recent research is finding an

increase in eating disorders and body image distortion in men at a time when they are

being more objectified in the mass media.

Dr. Harrison Pope, the leading expert in muscle dysmorphia research, believes

that sociocultural factors may be an important reason why more cases of this disorder are

being diagnosed. He points to muscularity recently becoming important in magazines

and films, as well as an increase in fitness activities in the American public, adding that

this disorder may be a rare psychiatric condition that has "become more prominent as a

result of changing cultural trends."137 Pope adds that muscle dysmorphia "will become

the body image disorder of the 1990s just as eating disorders leapt into the public

awareness in the 1980s.138 Another researcher claims that images of the ideal man do


135 Gordon, Jane, "The Fears Aroused by a Fine Physique: Modern Men Face the Same
Media Pressure to be Perfect that Women Have Long Endured." The Daily Telegraph, 12
June, 96.
136 Andersen, Arnold E., "Eating Disorders in Males, reprinted in Eating Disorders and
Obesity: A Comprehensive Handbook, Brownell, Kelley D and Fairburn, Christopher G.
ed., (Guilford Publications, Inc, NY,NY, 1995).

137 Pope, Gruber, Choi, Olivardia, and Phillips, 553.

138 Gannett News Service, "Ready For a New Psychiatric Disorder? Muscle
Dysmorphia," 23 Dec 97.









not look like they used to; the John Wayne type, a "...sweaty, wind-bitten hero with a bit

of a beer belly, rumpled clothing, and an air of absolute indifference to his appearance," is

being replaced with the Marky Marks of the world, beefcake boys--smooth-skinned,

clean-shaven, with tight, muscular bodies. 139 There are countless ads showcasing

rippling chests and shoulders, more shirtless actors in movies, and more male models on

fashion runways flaunting washboard stomachs. And while the new look is clearly

masculine, it is also "paradoxically feminine," with skin as smooth and clear as a

woman's complexion.

Other authors agree, commenting again on Marky Mark, the one-time rapper who

modeled underwear for Calvin Klein in the early 1990s. His look is the lean and hungry

cut look...with bulging biceps, chiseled chest and a washboard stomach."140 One author

stated that it is the look teenage boys want and are willing to turn to steroids to get. A

recent article in Elle called this phenomenon "reverse anorexia" and also blamed the way

men are being portrayed in the media for the increase in body image distortion and

distress in males. Dr. Murray Drummond, a health professor at the University of South

Australia, said that while women more commonly develop eating disorders in attempts to

lose weight, men develop compulsive exercise disorders in attempts to become more

muscular. He added that, "like the ideal female body image portrayed in women's

magazines, the ideal male body portrayed was out of reach for many men because the



139 Neimark, Jill, "The Beefcaking of America," Psychology Today, Nov-Dec 1994, 32.

140 Deacon, James, Maclean Hunter, "Biceps in a Bottle: Teenagers Turn to Steroids to
Build Muscles," 2 May 1994, 52.









men pictured were genetically gifted."141 If these two phenomena are related, men now

may be experiencing what women have experienced for decades. Men no longer are

being judged only on what they do; they also are finding themselves being judged largely

on their appearance. Men are being displayed as passive objects in advertisements, and

this is changing the way the world looks at the male body. 142 Dr. Precilla Choi, a senior

professor of psychology at Keele University and a member of Pope's team who diagnosed

the condition of muscle dysmorphia, also echoed the realization that men are increasingly

being judged by their appearance. Men are more concerned with their bodies than they

used to be and as a result are going to the gym more often. The danger in that is that

muscle dysmorphia develops from regular workouts even though it is not clear why some

men develop the disorder while others do not. 143

So far, very little quantifiable data exists about men and cultural standards of

attractiveness. One recent study examined the extent to which American society's

emphasis on fitness has changed; and if the number of media messages men received to

exercise, change their shape and be slim increased from 1960 to 1992.144 The

researchers determined that while the population in the area they studied had grown a

little over two times its 1960 size, the number of health and fitness centers had



141 Nixon, Sherrill, "Men at the Risk of Reverse Anorexia," Australian Associated Press,
2 Sep 97.
142 Simpson, Mark, "Hairy Fairies," New Statesman & Society," 10 Sep 1993, 33.

143 Connor, Steve and Ridley, Yvonne, "New Men Get New Illness to Go With Their
Muscles," Times Newspapers Limited, 16 Nov, 97.









experienced a 50-fold increase. The researchers also found that over the past three

decades, males have been exposed to increasing numbers of articles and advertisements

aimed at how to improve their shape, how to strengthen and tone their muscles and how

to modify their exercise habits. 145 When measuring the ideal body shape, they found

that the average shoulder-to-waist and shoulder-to-chest ratios had not changed

substantially in the past three decades, indicating a V-shaped ideal. However, though

their findings suggest that the male body-ideal has remained constant, they pointed out

that their study did not include a measure for muscular definition. The authors suggest

future research to determine if the cultural ideal of attractiveness for males is more firm

and muscular than in past years. According to Jim Keogh, an entertainment reporter, one

needs only to look at Sylvester Stallone's body as portrayed in the "Rocky" movies over

the years to see the change in the muscular definition of men in the mass media over the

past few decades. In the first two "Rocky" movies, Stallone is "beefy but undefined. By

the third "Rocky," he looked flayed, as though he had literally peeled away layers of skin

to reveal the sinew underneath..."146 Although these researchers and others in the past

decade have started looking toward men and how they are portrayed in the mass media, as

well as how this portrayal may or may not affect men, more research still is needed.



144 Petrie, Trent A., "Sociocultural Expectations of Attractiveness for Males," Sex
Roles: A Journal of Research, Nov 1996, 581-585.
145 Andersen, Arnold and DiDomenico, Lisa, "Diet Vs. Shape Content of Popular Male
and Female Magazines: A Dose Response Relationship to the Incidence of Eating
Disorders?," The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 11 (1992) 286.

146 Keogh, Jim, "Hollywood Keeps Focus on the Weighty Matters," The Telegram and
Gazette, Worchester, Ma., 17 July 97.









The Advertising/Entertainment Industries' Viewpoints

Advertisers are going after hot, young, virile bodies to sell their products. What is

different about that? The difference is that the bodies they are going after are male.

Kathleen Boyes, writing for The Chicago Tribune 's style magazine in 1992, stated that

men are looking at themselves differently, wanting to look younger and having more

plastic surgery. One plastic surgeon in Ohio said that men now make up 30 percent of his

patients, while in 1980 only 1 percent of his patients were men. This surgeon added that

men are where women were 10 years ago when it comes to getting plastic surgery and

that society has put significant emphasis on appearance, dieting, and exercise for men and

women. 147 Boyes added that the "standards for male beauty are pretty stringent: a well-

defined chest, a washboard stomach, a strong jaw, alongside an undefinable something

extra."148 The changes occurring toward the end of the 1980s had one common theme:

men were portrayed more than ever as sex objects.

The trend appears to be continuing in the 1990s, with men dieting and lifting

weights more and wearing sexier clothes. 149 Mike Sell, an executive for "Total Media,"

an advertising agency that focuses on the youth market, stated that the emphasis of men's

magazines 10 years ago was to stress fashion, but now these magazines focus on a new




147 Donahue, Kelly, "Men About-Face on Plastic Surgery Need," The Cleveland
Business, 1 Dec 1997.

148 Manca, Luigi and Manca, Alessandra, Gender & Utopia in Advertising: A Critical
Reader, (Lisle, IL, Procopian Press, 1994) 81.

149 Manca and Manca, 82.









area of male preoccupation--their body image. 150 Like women's magazines always

have, men's magazines now are filled with articles that "concentrate on their readers'

worries and inadequacies."151 Cosmetic companies are not missing this new market

either. Proctor and Gamble is now directly targeting men with their own line of Pantene

hair products. 152 Companies that sell traditionally female cosmetics, like nail polish, are

now trying to reach men. Last year nail polish company Urban Decay began advertising

its "unisex grungy nail colors-'Does pink make you puke?'-in magazines with male

readers, like Spin, Rolling Stone, and Interview, instead of in women's magazines."153

First-year sales were good for Urban Decay, and this did not go unnoticed by other

cosmetic companies such as Hard Candy, which recently launched a male line called

Candy Man. Last January, Nieman Marcus reportedly ordered all of the Candy Man line

of nail polish it could get and sold out. Male athletes now are being used to promote light

beers and diet sodas to establish a male association with traditionally feminine

products. 154





150 Gordon.

151 Gordon.

152 Klein, Rich, "Pantene Adds Men to its Marketing Mix," Advertising Age, July 14,
1997, 10.

153 Edwards, Tamala M., "Love Your Nails, Jack," Time Oct 6, 1997, 71.

154 Mishkind, Marc E.; Rodin, Judith; Silberstein, Lisa R. and Striegel-Moore, Ruth H.,
"The Embodiment of Maculinity," American Behavioral Scientist, May-June 1986, 552.









While companies are lining up to sell traditionally feminine products to men,

some advertisements are taking a "gender-bender turn." One campaign for Kenar

Enterprises shows supermodel Linda Evangelista kissing her own image, styled to look

like a man. The creator of the advertisements says that he thinks people are sick of the

"drugged out visuals."155 In reaction to the death of fashion photographer David Sorrenti

from a drug overdose, President Bill Clinton recently spoke out against "heroin chic."

However, those in the fashion industry say that "the heroin chic look is passe."156 Liz

Tilberis, editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar, agreed, saying the heroin chic style has been

over for "an awful long time now," adding, "we've had grunging and waiting, and we've

moved away from it." 157

The image of men as sex objects or men as beautiful is now more accepted,

according to Holly Brubach, style editor for New York Times Magazine. The male body

is being used to sell to both men and women. She adds that "male mannequins now sport

genital bulges and larger chests" and for the first time in window-dressing history are

appearing as frequently as female mannequins."158 As men are being used more and

more in advertising, it is apparent that there is a single standard of beauty for men today:


155 Krol, Carol, "Kenar's Ad Takes a Gender-Bending Turn," Advertising Age, Feb 17,
1997, 8.

156 Crain, Rance, "Heroin Chic," vs. Joe Camel: What's Hippest to Our Young People,"
Advertising Age, June 30, 1997, 16.

157 Lockwood, Lisa and Ramey, Joanna, "Industry Reacts to Clinton's Criticism:
President Bill Clinton Accuses Fashion Industry of Glamorizing Heroine Addiction,"
Women's Wear Daily," May 22, 1997.

158 Neimark.









"hypermasculine, muscled, powerfully shaped body-the Soloflex man, and the question is

whether this standard will punish men as much as the super thin standard has punished

women."159 When asked what the current trend for models was, one modeling agency

assistant stated that there is a thin trend for men today; however, she added that the ideal

image was "thin, but in shape, of course." Also, on the runway, she said, you still see the

well-developed abdominal muscles and the typical highly muscular model.160 Phil

Hilton, executive editor of Men's Health, said that "men of the 1990s can not expect to

get out of shape and still be attractive to women... men can no longer be complacent." 61



Media as Possible Causes/Contributors to Self-esteem, Body Image Distortion and Eating
Disorders

According to one eating disorder expert, Steven Romano, men do feel inadequate

and uncomfortable about their own bodies while looking at unrealistic and rigid examples

of this new, single standard of beauty. 162 This same expert quoted in another article

pointed to the dark side of this cultural emphasis on a specific male type-the growing

number of men suffering from body image disorders. He has more and more male

patients who have body image disturbances and who are compulsive exercisers and/or



159 Neimark.

160 Conversation with Kim Cinque, Florida Stars Model and Talent Agency, Gainesville,
Fl, Nov 97.

161 Connor and Ridley.

162Manca and Manca, 81.









steroid abusers--symptoms of reverse anorexia or muscle dysmorphia. Romano says

these men are very similar to female anorexics. When the female anorexic looks in the

mirror, she sees herself as too fat, and when these males, who are well muscled, look in

the mirror, they see themselves as too thin because they are comparing themselves to the

ideal projected in the media. Romano recalls one 19-year-old patient who said he had to

look like Marky Mark and would only eat a diet that would allow him to build

muscle. 163 One high school student confirmed that "in part, their body-image obsession

is a response to the depiction of men as sex objects in the mainstream media."164

One research firm reported that in the past six years alone, the number of men

exercising has increased by 30 percent. Although this increase in exercise is not

necessarily a bad thing, more men are showing up with body image disorders and are

abusing steroids in attempt to build muscle. 165 Pope says that while there is nothing

inherently wrong with bodybuilding, some people are finding an outlet in it in response to

"the fitness boom and preoccupation with appearances."166 When a group of college-

age men was asked how they would prefer to look, an overwhelming majority preferred to

be mesomorphic, or V-shaped and muscular, than ectomorphic (thin) or endomorphic



163 Neimark.

164 Deacon, May 2, 1994, 52.

165 Neimark.

166 Pope as quoted in Kabak, Joanne, "Fitness File, Body Dysmorphia, Having a
Distorted Body Image Can Lead to Compulsive and Dangerous Weight Training, The
Dangers of Steroids," Newsday, 29 Dec 97.









(fat).167 Another study also using college men echoed the same theme. The "skinnier"

or "fatter" the males perceived themselves to be compared to the mesomorphic ideal, the

more negatively they tended to feel about their body parts. Also, the more their self-

perception of their bodies deviated more from the muscular ideal, the more their self-

concept suffered. 168 A recent Men's Health survey sent to readers in the England

resulted in 75 percent of the men responding that they are dissatisfied with the shape of

their bodies, while only four percent regarded themselves as "very attractive."169 While

the effects are less documented in men than in women, negative feelings about one's

body can carry over into other areas of a man's life. For example, the majority of people

with positive feelings about their appearance, fitness, or health reported positive self-

concepts, satisfaction with their life, and an absence of loneliness and depression. Those

with negative feelings about their appearance, fitness and health experienced the opposite.

According to surveys conducted in 1972 and again in 1992, both men and women

indicated growing dissatisfaction in their height, weight, muscle tone, face, torso and their

overall appearance. 170 Another researcher found that 95 percent of the college men who

were surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with some aspect of their bodies, with men



167 Mishkind, Rodin, Silberstein, and Striegel-Moore, 547.

168 Tucker, 987-8.

169 Gordon.

170 Cash, Thomas F., "The Psychology of Physical Appearance: Aesthetics, Attributes,
and Images," reprinted in Body Images, Cash, Thomas F. and Pruzinsky, Thomas, ed.,
(Guilford Publications, Inc., NY, NY, 1990) 51-52.









consistently expressing their greatest dissatisfaction with their chest, weight, and

waist.171

A more recent study reflected this trend, with college men describing the ideal

body as one that is lean, yet muscular. The responses in this study differed from past

research in that the men thought they were heavier than their ideal, reflecting a "new

emphasis on lean muscularity among college men."172 Male body builders were found

to have a high drive for bulk combined with a high drive for thinness, reflecting current

trends that the bulk must be in the form of lean muscle mass. In pursuit of leanness, men

appear to be at risk for developing eating disorder practices including binging, purging

and restricting food. 173 Recent research on men indicates that those with eating

disorders appear more similar to women with eating disorders than to other men, with the

exception that the men with eating disorders were significantly less likely than the women

to seek treatment. 174 Research on muscle dysmorphia shows that those afflicted behave

similarly to people with eating disorders, and many also have a past history of anorexia.

Individuals with this disorder become extremely upset if they miss a day of lifting

weights in their usual pattern. They also adhere to a high protein, low-fat diet, counting



171 Mishkind, Rodin, Silberstein, and Striegel-Moore, 552.

172 Borchert, Jill and Heinberg, Leslie, "Gender Schema and Gender Role Discrepancy
as Correlates of Body Image," The Journal of Psychology, 1996, 555.

173 Blouin and Goldfield, 1995, 164.

174 Olivardia, Roberto; Pope, Jr., Harrison G.; Mangweth, Barbara and Hudson, James I.,
"Eating Disorders in College Men," American Journal of Psychiatry, Sep 1995, 1282-
1283.









calories each day. If they deviate from their diet, most become so agitated that they must

compensate immediately, with an extra workout, for example. 175

With the realization by health care professionals that both men and women are

developing eating disorders, more research has been focused on their dieting behaviors.

Several studies of people who developed eating disorders reveal that more than 80

percent began with a diet. 176 A 1992 study of high school students revealed that more

girls and boys are dieting; approximately 41 percent of boys are now dieting, compared to

reports of 4 to 24 percent in the past. More often than ever before, girls and boys are

fasting for 24 hours at a time monthly, as well as using laxatives and purging as ways to

control or change their weights. In the 1992 study cited above, the authors argued that

these findings confirm the notion that high school students are feeling the pressure to

shape their bodies into the cultural ideal. 177 This trend is happening at an even younger

age; even children of elementary school age are developing eating problems. While

eating disorders and body dissatisfaction are growing in children, helping children to

accept themselves for who they are is an important first step in the prevention of these

problems. 178



175 Pope, Gruber, Choi, Olivardia and Phillips, 551.

176 "Myths about Body Weight," Oct 97, National Eating Disorder Organization,
(ttp://www.laureate.com/myth.html).

177 Emmons, Lillian, "Dieting and Purging Behavior in Black and White High School
students," Journal of the American Dietetic Association," (Mar 1992) 309-311.

178 "Information for Schools: An Advisory on Eating Disorders," Oct 97, National
Eating Disorder Organization, (http://www.laureate.com/infoschl.html).









Summary


According to social comparison theory, people have a need to evaluate themselves

and will do so socially if there is not an objective, physical way to evaluate themselves.

In an upward comparison, a person can experience damage to his or her self-concept

when a discrepancy occurs between the individual and the image to which he or she is

compared.

Research shows that women have been bombarded with a cultural standard of

attractiveness that has gotten thinner over the past 30 years. Women have had more eating

disorders and body image problems compared to men in direct ratio to the number of

slimming messages they receive in the media. Some studies have attempted to show how

these images in the mass media contribute to eating disorders in women by affecting their

body image and self-esteem. While many variables contribute to eating disorders, images

in the mass media may put some women at risk for developing these disorders.

Many researchers believe that a similarly difficult-to-attain V-shaped male ideal

has emerged in the mass media. Some point to the increasing reports of men with eating

disorders, muscle dysmorphia, body dissatisfaction, and lower self-esteem and compare

this to what women have been facing for decades. More research is needed to document

these trends and to further link them to the psychological disorders that have become

epidemic in women.

If men now are being bombarded increasingly with messages and images

concerning their physical attractiveness, then researchers could expect physical

attractiveness to become more important to men. As it becomes more important, men









may try to reduce the discrepancy between their bodies and the ideal body in the media

through behavior, as social comparison theory suggests. As this occurs, researchers could

see more eating and body dysmorphic disorders, body-image distortion, anabolic steroid

abuse and lower self-esteem as men try to bridge the gap between their bodies and the

difficult-to-attain cultural ideal.

Research Questions


The review of the literature allows one to assume that the male cultural standard

of attractiveness is mesomorphic, or V-shaped. The research was designed to answer the

following questions:

First, has this ideal become more muscularly defined over the past 30 years?

H1= The ideal has become more muscularly defined.

Hlo= The ideal has not become more muscularly defined.

Second, have males been exposed to an increasing number of V-shaped images

over the past 30 years?

H2= Men have been exposed to an increasing number of V-shaped images.

H20= Men have not been exposed to an increasing number of V-shaped images.

Third, have males been exposed to an increasing number of all masculine images

over the past 30 years?

H3= Men have been exposed to an increasing number of all masculine images.

H30= Men have not been exposed to an increasing number of all masculine


images.
















CHAPTER 3
METHODS

Overview


The researcher conducted a content analysis of three popular men's magazines.

Magazines were chosen over other forms of media for their ease of measurement and

availability for the time period from 1967 to 1997. The time period was chosen because

it corresponded with Petrie's previous study, and 1967 was the first year Rolling Stone

was published. Because past studies analyzing women's images in the media have shown

that the female images seen in magazines, television, and movies all displayed a slimming

trend,179 it is reasonable to assume that if there is a male image trend in one medium,

this trend would show up in all forms of media. Therefore, while a larger percentage of

boys/men are potentially exposed to images on television programs such as ESPN or

MTV, movies or outdoor advertising, 180 the magazine images probably would be

similar to what men would see in those other channels.

The magazines analyzed were Sports Illustrated, chosen because it is a popular

magazine with a target audience of young men interested in sports as well as fashion and


179 Silverstein, Brett; Perdue, Lauren; Peterson, Barbara and Kelly, Eileen, "The Roles
of the Mass Media in Promoting a Thin Standard of Bodily Attractiveness for Women,"
Sex Roles (1986).

180 Simmons Market Research Bureau, Inc, "Teen age research study," (1994) 235.









physical fitness; Rolling Stone, chosen because it is a magazine directed at young adults

who have an interest in popular culture, and GQ, chosen because it is directed at young

men interested in their appearance. All three magazines chosen a circulation of 600,000

or more and have the type of images that could be measured easily. 181 Young men have

a higher exposure to all three magazines,182 and teen males have a higher exposure to

two of the three magazines (Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated), compared to other

publications.183 The time period chosen allowed the researcher to document any

changes that have occurred in a cultural ideal of attractiveness for men over the past 30

years. Magazines were located at the University of Florida, Florida State University, and

public libraries in the Gainesville, Fla., area. Both hard copy and microfilm copies were

used for analysis. The 30-year period was broken down into three-year intervals, starting

in 1967 (1967, 1970, etc.). This was done so the researcher was able to manage three

decades of information in a timely fashion. Four issues per year from each of the three

magazines were analyzed for a total of 132 issues over the 30-year period. A random

numbers table was used to choose the magazine issues to analyze (Appendix A). When

more than one issue of a magazine was published in a single month, the issue for the first

complete week in that month was used. If an issue was not available, the next

chronological issue was used. In three of these 11 instances, the next chronological issue



181 Standard Rate and Data Service, Consumer Magazine Advertising Source, July 97,
530-542.

182 Simmons Market Research Bureau, "Study of Meida and Markets, Multi-Media
Audiences: males," (1994) 9-10.









available fell in the following year. This happened for the following issues of Rolling

Stone: January 1967, February 1967, and June 1985 (January and February of 1968 and

June of 1986 were substituted).

Coding and Data Analysis


The total number of pages was counted by looking at the last numbered page in

the magazine, and adding 4 or more pages for the covers, plus any additional "cover

flaps." Then the researcher manually counted all the pages in the magazine and added

any additional pages inside that were not included in the total page count, such as some

advertisements or special sections, with the exception of inserts. Inserts were defined as

being intended for the reader to remove from the magazine (i.e. music offers). Missing

pages were subtracted from the total number of pages (i.e. front cover ripped off).

Next, pages containing masculine images were counted whether the images were

codable or not, to reveal whether men were being more objectified in the media over the

30-year period studied. Pages were counted as containing a masculine image if there was

at least part of a male torso (the human body excluding the head and limbs)--back, front,

or side view--on the page, except for pictures of pictures, cartoons or art work, and

images that were smaller than 2 inches wide or 2 inches in length. If an image was a head

shot and some of the chest or shoulders was visible, then it was counted as a masculine

image. If only the head and lower neck were visible or if the image was a leg shot and no

torso above the waist was visible, then it was not counted as a masculine image.


183 Simmons Market Research Bureau, Simmons Teenage research study, (1994) 8.









Finally, the researcher analyzed images of men to judge the cultural standard of

attractiveness found in the mass media. Previous research has shown that the cultural

standard of attractiveness for males is a V-shaped body (broad shoulders and chest

tapering to a narrow waist); 184 however, muscular definition has not been analyzed.

Images were judged on muscular definition and level of body fat by a comparison to an

eight-image male scale that reflected the following body image descriptions:

Low Body Fat/Not Muscular
Low Body Fat/Somewhat Muscular
Low Body Fat/Very Muscular
Medium Body Fat/Not Muscular
Medium Body Fat/Somewhat Muscular
Medium Body Fat/Very Muscular
High Body Fat/Not Muscular
High Body Fat/Somewhat Muscular

A ninth category, High Body Fat/Very Muscular, was considered but rejected because, in

researching various magazines and the Internet, no images could be found to represent

this category.

To develop the male scale, the researcher selected 38 male images of varying body

types, with at least their entire torso and arms exposed, from the Internet and a local

modeling agency. These images were cropped above the chin and below the waist.

These images were placed on separate pieces of paper and randomly shuffled. All 38

images then were judged by three undergraduate students using the above eight

categories. First, the students individually placed the pictures in one of the eight

categories, which resulted in the students placing all the same images in six of the eight



184 Petrie, Trent A., "Sociocultural Expectations of Attractiveness for Males," Sex Roles
(1996) 587.









categories. In the other two categories, medium body fat/not muscular and medium body

fat/very muscular, two of the three students agreed on category placement. Next, in

categories in which complete agreement was reached on more than one image, each

student was asked to select the best image to represent the category. Students agreed on

the best image to represent each category in all but one of the categories (low body

fat/somewhat muscular); again, two of the three students agreed. The final eight-image

measurement scale appears in Appendix B.

When evaluating overall muscular definition, masculine images were accepted

for coding if models were shirtless or had on form-fitting clothing that still allowed for

analysis of muscular definition and level of body fat. Images were accepted for coding

even if the whole torso was not in view, as long as some degree of muscular definition

could be established (i.e. biceps or pectoral and abdominal muscles were necessary to

establish muscular definition, and a visible waist or abdominal muscles were necessary to

code level of body fat). The researcher found 409 images acceptable for coding. The

frequency of each type of image was tallied to reveal what types of images magazines

have been publishing. A complete listing of all the rules that were applied during coding

can be found in Appendix C.

Twenty percent of the magazine issues were randomly selected for double-coding

to ensure reliability. Data were recorded using redesigned sheets (Appendix D). In the

process of training the independent coder, the researcher refined the list of rules for the

coding process. Holsti's coefficient of reliability equation was used to calculate the

agreement between the researcher and the independent coder. The equation C.R. = 2 M/

N1 + N2 was used, where M equaled the number of coding agreements between the coders









and N1 and N2 equaled the number of coding decisions made by each coder. 185 The

pretest was broken up into three parts because the actual coding took place on different

days, several weeks apart, and this procedure was used to trouble-shoot any agreement

problems due to the differences in magazine formats. Three protests were conducted; one

for each of the three different magazines analyzed. Each pretest was conducted before

double coding of that magazine would begin. For example, before coding GQ, a pretest

on a GQ issue was conducted. The three protests revealed the following agreement

between the researcher and independent coder:

Number of Total Pages = 100%
Number of Pages with masculine images = 97%
Number of Codable Images = 80%
Category Assignment using male scale = 44%

Because the agreement was above, but near the minimum acceptability for the number of

codable images (80 percent), the researcher clarified the rules with the independent coder

by discussing codable images that had not been agreed upon by both coders during the

pretest.

After each pretest, disagreements concerning the male scale were discussed.

While the total male scale agreement for the three protests was 44 percent, more

agreement was evident when splitting the scale into its two components--muscular

definition and level of body fat. The researcher and independent coder agreed 67 percent

of the time on muscular definition and 56 percent of the time on level of body fat.

Disagreement on muscular definition was between the somewhat muscular and very



185 Hosti, Ole, Content Analysis for the Social Sciences and Humanities, (Reading, MA:
Luigi and Alessandra Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., 1969) 140.









muscular categories 100 percent of the time. And disagreement on level of body fat was

between the low body fat and medium body fat categories 100 percent of the time. Using

other magazines, the researcher and independent coder analyzed images of male bodies

and discussed how and why each would code the images a certain way. Also, the rules

were reiterated as a focal point to refer to when future uncertainty emerged.

Following each pretest, the researcher and independent coder each individually

coded nine randomly pre-selected issues from each magazine--27 in all--initially yielding

the following levels of agreement:

Number of Total Pages = 100%
Number of Pages with masculine images = 94%
Number of Codable Images = 95%
Category Assignment using male scale = 60%

Following a second detailed review of disagreement between the researcher and the

independent coder, 89 percent agreement was reached for the male scale. The researcher

accounts for such a large increase in agreement to the following:

1. Due to the small number of codable images (38 in all of the issues double-coded)
a small difference in agreement resulted in a huge percentage change. For
example, the nine double-coded Rolling Stone issues resulted only in four images
acceptable for coding; therefore, a change in agreement on just one image would
have caused a change in agreement of 25 percent.

2. Most disagreement was only on half of the scale; for example, the independent
coder and researcher would agree on muscular definition but not level of body fat
or vice versa. Further discussion resulted in more accurate coding of images
because, before either person changed his or her analysis of the image, each
person would discuss why he or she selected an initial category. Any changes
were made only after each person could evaluate the image in the same way--if
agreement could not be reached, then the initial category assignments remained.

3. After the last pretest, the researcher added the rule "when in doubt, round up." In
other words, if in doubt of whether an image had no body fat or medium body fat,
the coders chose medium. While this resulted in the last set of coding having the
highest agreement on the male scale (75 percent) it is difficult to say whether this









made much of a difference because the last nine magazine issues coded only
contained four codable images.

4. Due to fatigue, at times it was easy to forget rule #5/Part III-picking the closest
representation on the scale. For example, if an image had large biceps, and/or
large pectorals AND bumpy or defined abdominal muscles, it would fall into the
"very muscular" category. Then the researchers examined the abdominal area. If
the area was soft or protruding, the image was coded as in the medium fat/very
muscular category. Or if the area was flat or concave, it was coded in the low
fat/very muscular category. When discussion ensued after the initial coding, re-
examining this rule aided each coder in deciding on the best category assignment
for the image based on the rules drafted by the researcher.

Because the second look at the disagreement resulted in more accurate coding of the

images according to the rules, when the researcher and the independent coder reached

agreement, the researcher used the new coding decisions for her data analysis. In most

instances, the double coding took place before any individual coding by the researcher.

Any clarification of the rules obtained during the second detailed look at disagreement

resulted in more accurate coding decisions by the researcher in the remaining issues (80

percent).

Even though the initial agreement on the male scale appeared low at 60 percent,

more reliability of the measurement was found when breaking the coding decisions into a

split scale: how many times the researcher and independent coder agreed on muscular

definition and how many times agreement was reached on level of body fat. Splitting the

male scale agreement into its two components revealed 83 percent agreement for

muscular definition and 73 percent for level of body fat. Therefore, the researcher is

more confident in her analysis regarding muscularity than body-fat levels. Fifty-five

percent of the disagreement on muscular definition was between the not muscular and

somewhat muscular categories; 45 percent was between the somewhat muscular and very






60


muscular categories. And 93 percent of the disagreement on level of body fat was

between the low body fat and medium body fat categories; 7 percent was between the

medium body fat to high body fat categories. Finally, it is important to note that the

researcher and independent coder only completely disagreed six percent of the time.
















CHAPTER 4
FINDINGS

General Information


Of the 132 magazines analyzed, the average number of pages was 135. There was

an increase in the number of magazine pages over the 30-year period, beginning with an

average of 93 pages in the 1960s to 154 in the 1990s. The following average total page

numbers were found for each magazine: GQ issues had an average of 221 pages, Sports

Illustrated an average of 104 pages, and Rolling Stone an average of 82 pages. Of the

409 codable images analyzed, 71 percent were found in GQ, 16 percent in Sports

Illustrated, and 13 percent in Rolling Stone.

The data were analyzed by individual decades-the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and

1990s, except in discussion about the male scale's eight categories, in which the 1960s

were included with the 1970s because there were so few codable images during that time

period. Because of the time period used (1967-1997) and the coding procedures (every

three years), only one year of magazines was coded from the 1960s, while the 1970s had

four years, the 1980s had three years and the 1990s had three years coded.









Hypotheses


Muscular Ideal

The data supported the first hypothesis that over the past 30 years, the male ideal

body shape or image in the media has become more muscularly defined. In 1967, the

"not muscular" category accounted for the largest percentage of images, 55 percent,

compared to 46 percent of images that were either "somewhat muscular" or "very

muscular." By the 1990s, the "not muscular" category accounted for only 17 percent of

the images, while the "somewhat muscular" or "very muscular" categories accounted for

83 percent.

And while the percentage of images in the muscular categories appear to have

decreased slightly from the 1980s to the 1990s, when the categories were split into the

three possible choices of muscularity--"not muscular," "somewhat muscular," and "very

muscular"--more trends emerged. The largest category in the 1960s was "not muscular,"

followed by "somewhat muscular;" "very muscular" was not represented at all. However,

the "not muscular" category decreased almost every decade, and the "somewhat

muscular" category remained the largest during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The "very

muscular" category, which was not found at all in the 1960s, consistently increased from

the 1960s to the 1990s, rising 35 percent over the past 30 years [Chi-square (df 6)=49.97,

p<.000], (See Table 4-1).

Because muscular definition usually increases as level of body fat decreases, the

researcher also analyzed level of body fat as a separate category. In 1967, 55 percent of

the codable images were categorized as showing medium body fat, 27 percent were in the









low body fat categories, and 18 percent were high body fat images. In the 1990s, medium

and high body fat levels fell, and the low body fat category rose to 62 percent, more than

twice its original size in 1967 [Chi-square (df 6)=24.26, p<.000], (See Table 4-2).



Table 4-1

Year Not Muscular Somewhat Muscular Very Muscular

1960s 55% 46% 0%
1970s 40% 49% 10%
1980s 13% 60% 28%
1990s 17% 48% 35%
Chi-square=49.97 df=6 p<.000




Table 4-2

Year Low body fat Medium body fat High body fat

1960s 27% 55% 18%
1970s 43% 51% 6%
1980 67% 29% 4%
1990s 62% 30% 8%
Chi-square=24.26 df=6 p<.000

"V-shaped"

The second hypothesis, that men have been exposed to an increasing number of

V-shaped images--a broad chest tapering to a narrowing waist, over the past 30 years,

also was supported by this research. The researcher's male scale included four categories

containing an image with a broad chest tapering to narrowing waist--low body

fat/somewhat muscular, low body fat/very muscular, medium body fat/somewhat

muscular, and medium body fat/very muscular. Results show a steady increase in the

number of V-shaped images, with the exception of a five percent drop in the 1990s. Even









with that slight decline, the V-shaped image was still the most commonly seen in these

magazines [Chi-square (df 3)=28.23, p<.000], (See Table 4-3).



Table 4-3

Year V-shaped Images

1960s 45%
1970s 60%
1980 85%
1990s 80%
Chi-square=28.23 df=3 p<.000


In the 1960s and 1970s, 26 percent of the images were categorized in the low

body fat/somewhat muscular category, 23 percent were categorized medium body fat/not

muscular category, and 22 percent were in the medium body fat/somewhat muscular

category. However, 41 percent of the images were coded as not muscular, with varying

levels of body fat. In the 1980s, the percentage of images coded as not muscular dropped

to 12 percent. A thin yet muscular trend emerged; 44 percent of the images were coded

as low body fat/somewhat muscular and 21 percent as low body fat/very muscular. The

trend continued into the 1990s, when nearly 60 percent of images fell into the same two

categories as in the previous decade: low body fat/somewhat muscular dropped to 29

percent, but the low body fat/very muscular category grew to 28 percent of the images.

And although low body fat/somewhat muscular was the largest category in the 1990s, it

exceeded the low body fat/very muscular category by only one percent. It appears that the

frequency of low body fat/somewhat muscular images declined while the percentage of

low body fat/very muscular images continued to increase. Occurrences of each category

are broken down by decade in Table 4-4, [Chi-square (df 14)=66.67, p<.000].










Table 4-4


Category


Low body fat/not muscular


Image


+


Low body fat/somewhat muscular


Low body fat/very muscular


Medium body fat/not muscular


Medium body fat/somewhat
muscular


Medium body fat/very muscular


High body fat/not muscular


High body fat/somewhat muscular


1960s&70s


1980s


1990s


S 12% 3% 5%




1 26% 44% 29%




L 3% 21% 28%


23%


22% 13% 16%






6% 8% 7%


Chi-square=66.67 df=14 p<.000









Masculine Images

There was little evidence to support the third hypothesis-- that men have been

exposed to an increasing number of all masculine images-because overall the number of

pages containing masculine images increased only slightly over the past 30 years. For

1967, 47 percent of the pages contained masculine images; this increased to 50 percent

for the 1990s (See Table 4-5). Since there was an increase in number of pages, overall

there were more masculine images.



Table 4-5

Year Pages Containing
Masculine Images

1960s 47%
1970s 48%
1980 49%
1990s 50%



Post Hoc Analysis

The research revealed an image trend by magazine for muscular definition.

Eighty-four percent of the images in GQ were somewhat muscular or very muscular; only

16 percent were categorized as not muscular. Sports Illustrated followed with 77 percent

of the images categorized as somewhat muscular or very muscular; only 23 percent were

not muscular. However, the images in Rolling Stone showed a different trend. Fifty-

seven percent of the images were not muscular compared to 43 percent somewhat or very

muscular [Chi-square= (df 4)=43.62, p<.000], (See Table 4-6).









Table 4-6

Magazine Not Muscular Somewhat Muscular Very Muscular

GQ 16% 58% 26%
Rolling Stone 57% 30% 13%
Sports Illustrated 23% 46% 31%
Chi-square=43.62 df=4 p<.000



The researcher also noted a trend by magazine for each category on the male

scale. Fifty-eight percent of the images found in GQ were either low body fat/somewhat

muscular or low body fat/very muscular. Fifty-three percent of the images in Rolling

Stone were categorized as not muscular/low or medium body fat, and 52 percent of the

images in Sports Illustrated were categorized as low body fat/somewhat muscular or

medium body fat/very muscular [Chi-square (df 14)=96.76, p<.000]. The large

percentage of medium body fat/very muscular images in Sports Illustrated may be due to

the many pictures of boxers who tend to be very muscular but not extremely lean. The

stereotype of musicians being non-athletic may explain why more than half the images in

Rolling Stone were not muscular.

Finally, the research examined whether or not the number of codable (or more

revealing) images were increasing, even though there was only a slight increase in the

number of overall masculine images. Again, a small increase was found (See Table 4-7).

But while there is not a large percentage change in the actual number of images, whether

codable or not, what has changed is what those images look like.







68


Table 4-7

Year Codable Images

60s 2%
70s 4%
80 5%
90s 6%
















CHAPTER 5
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

Discussion


The findings support previous literature and research that have suggested that

masculine images in the mass media have changed. Researchers have claimed that

images of the ideal man do not look like they used to, and this research confirmed their

assumptions. In the 1960s, the majority of masculine images fell into the "not muscular"

categories, regardless of the level of body fat. In the 1990s most of the masculine images

fell into the "somewhat muscular" or "very muscular" categories, and the majority were

categorized as low body fat. The ideal images portrayed in the media in the earlier

decades of this study were heavier and less muscularly defined men; however, time has

shown a shift toward a thin yet moderately to heavily muscled ideal. This research

quantified a trend that some researchers, advertisers, and modeling agencies have been

aware of since the mid-1980s.

Dr. Trent Petrie completed a content analysis of two men's magazines, GQ and

Esquire, and found that the ideal body type remained V-shaped--a broad chest tapering to

a narrowing waist. This research confirmed that the most prevalent masculine image in

the mass media is a V-shaped image. Petrie measured the shoulder-to-chest and

shoulder-to-waist ratios to indicate whether or not an image was V-shaped and found that

the prevailing image was V-shaped and had not substantially changed in the past three









decades. 186 This researcher counted an image as V-shaped if it was categorized into one

of the four male scale categories that were identified as exemplifying a V-shaped body.

While the V-shaped image has nearly always accounted for the majority of mass media

images, as Petrie found, this researcher found that the percentages of these images has

increased over the past 30 years, with a slight decrease in the 1990s. Also, Petrie did not

indicate whether he found an increase in these images; this researcher did. This research

supports the viewpoint that the growing masculine image in the mass medium is a lean,

highly muscular image; the Marky Mark image that many researchers refer to would fall

into this category.

Finally, many researchers, advertisers, and modeling agencies speculate that, not

only are the images of men changing, but also there is an increasing number of these

images in the media. This researcher did find a significant change in what the masculine

images looked like throughout the past 30 years and agrees that a stringent standard for

male beauty has arrived--thinner but more muscular. However, while the image has

changed greatly, the actual percentage of masculine images has risen only slightly.

Research Contributions for Mass Communications


While past researchers have indicated that the male body most portrayed in the

past decades had undergone a change, there was very little quantifiable data to document

this change. This analysis of men's magazines during the past 30 years quantifies what

many have speculated--that men in the media do not look like they used to. There are

countless studies of the way women are portrayed in the media and of the effects of these


186 Petrie, Trent A., "Sociocultural Expectations of Attractiveness for Males," Sex









images. While this study does not suggest any effects concerning men and the media, it

does clearly show the way the male image has changed from 1967 to 1997.

Research Limitations and Opportunities for Future Research


More research was and still is needed as masculine images change into ideals that

may one day be as unattainable as those women have faced for decades. This research

quantified the changes masculine images have gone through in the media and gives a

starting point for future researchers to continue studying how men are portrayed in the

media and to study what effects, if any, these changing images are having on men in their

daily lives. Previous research has suggested that one's body image is influenced by

sociocultural factors such as those found in the mass media. Dr. Harrison Pope, the

leading expert in recent research on muscle dysmorphia, points to the recent increase in

the importance of muscularity in American culture, magazines, and films as a contributor

to increased occurrences of body image disturbances in young men. 187 This research

does support the argument that muscularity has become more popular in at least one mass

medium; however, it does not provide evidence for a cause-and-effect relationship

between the mass media and increases in occurrences of body image disturbances in

men.

A study could be conducted of males of different age groups and a comparison

could be made to determine whether or not men who have been exposed to more



Roles: A Journal of Research, Nov 1996, 581-588.
187 Pope, Harrison G; Gruber, Amanda J.; Choi, Precilla; Olivardia, Roberto and
Phillips, Katherine A., "Muscle Dysmorphia, an Underrecognized Form of Body
Dysmorphic Disorder," Psychosomatics, 38, Nov-Dec 1997, 553.









difficult-to-attain images have experienced more body image distortion. Or a

longitudinal study could analyze males, their body image, and their media consumption

habits through their early teen years into adulthood and to determine if there is a

correlation between the media images and increase in body image distortion or other body

image problems. Also, future research could study the effects on men of the ideal images

in the media using social comparison theory. Previous research has suggested that the

male ideal body and men's own bodies were relatively identical, thus allowing men to

feel comfortable with their bodies. However, in this content analysis, a changed ideal

male body in the mass media was discovered. This researcher suggests, as others have,

that the new ideal seen in the mass media does not represent the body type most men

have, just as female fashion models seen in the mass media do not represent the way most

American women look. Dr. Murray Drummond, a health professor at the University of

South Australia, states that these images in the mass media represent genetically gifted

people and therefore are unattainable for most people. 188 If the average man compares

himself to these images, a discrepancy may emerge between his own body image and the

ideal. According to social comparison theory, once a comparison is made, assuming that

the person wants to be similar to and ranks the other person as superior, then the

existence of the discrepancy will result in action on the part of the person doing the

comparing in order to reduce the discrepancy. While a person's self-esteem may be

lowered by the comparison, the behavior he engages in to reduce the discrepancy could be

dangerous. Behaviors such as excessive concern with diet and weight loss, as well as



188 Nixon, Sherrill, "Men at the Risk of Reverse Anorexia," Australian Associated Press,
2 Sept 97, 25.









excessive concern with attaining lean body mass and using steroids, can be seen as a way

to reduce this discrepancy and are worth studying in connection to the new hyper-

masculine yet thin ideal that has emerged in the mass media over the past 30 years.

Finally, while this research clearly established a change in the ideal body image

portrayed in magazines, others may want to replicate the study after refining this

researcher's male scale. This male scale was developed specifically for this study and

because it has been used only once, more testing could establish it as a valuable tool to

use when analyzing media images. Only 60 percent agreement was reached when the

male scale categories were taken as a whole, even though overall the researcher and

independent coder disagreed only six percent of the time. When the scale was split into

two parts, level of body fat and muscular definition, the researcher and independent coder

reached 83 percent agreement on muscular definition but only 73 percent agreement for

the level of body fat portion of the scale. It is obvious that agreeing on level of body fat is

more of a problem. Replication could determine whether the disagreement is due to a

flaw in the scale or flaws in the training and directions the independent coder received.

Once refined, the male scale could be used as a way to judge perceptions of what is

considered a healthy male body.

Also, although women's studies have indicated that images in one medium are

similar to those in other media, replication is needed in television and movies to discover

whether the trends found in this study will be found in those other media as well.









Conclusion


The dominant culture in American society has embraced thinness as a cultural

standard of attractiveness for women, and researchers have suggested that this can be

damaging to women in a variety of ways. Women have had more eating disorders and

body image problems compared to men in direct ratio to the number of slimming

messages they receive in the media. Now the dominant culture in American society also

has embraced a new ideal for men. This new ideal--low body fat, very muscular--may be

just as difficult for men to attain as the thin ideal has been for women. Petrie has found

that over the past three decades, males have been exposed to an increased number of

articles and advertisements aimed at how to improve their shape, strengthen and tone

their muscles and how to change their exercise habits. 189 Because men now are being

bombarded with increased messages concerning their physical attractiveness and

difficult-to-attain images, researchers could expect physical attractiveness to become

more important to men. Males then may try to reduce the discrepancy between their

bodies and the ideal seen in the media through certain behaviors. While the importance

of physical attractiveness for men may never reach the same level it holds for women,

some men still may put their health at risk as some women do in order to attain the

cultural ideal. If indeed there is a connection between media images and messages and

women's health risk behaviors, then we may soon see or already may be seeing the effects

mass media images may have on young men. While there are many contributors to low


189 Petrie, 591.






75


self-esteem and to eating and body dysmorphic disorders, the sociocultural impact of the

mass media in the latter half of this century cannot be ignored.
















APPENDIX A
MAGAZINE ISSUES


Bold: Double Coded
Italics: Issue not available next available issue was coded


Year GQ Rolling Stone Sports Illustrated

1967 Mar, Apr, Aug, Dec Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb Mar, Apr, Aug, Dec
1970 Apr, Aug, Oct, Nov Apr, Aug, Oct, Nov Apr, Aug, Oct, Nov
1973 May, Sep, Oct, Nov May, Jul, Oct, Dec May, Jul, Oct, Dec
1976 Jan, Apr, Jul, Sep Jan, Apr, Jul, Sep Mar, Apr, Jul, Sep
1979 May, Sep, Oct, Nov May, Sep, Oct, Nov May, Sep, Oct, Nov
1982 Mar, Apr, May, Dec Mar, Apr, May, Dec Mar, Apr, May, Dec
1985 Jan, Jun, Sep, Nov Jan, Jun, Sep, Nov Jan, Jun, Sep, Nov
1988 Feb, Jun, Jul, Oct Feb, Jun, Jul, Oct Feb, Jun, Jul, Oct
1991 Jan, May, Oct, Dec Jan, May, Oct, Dec Jan, May, Oct, Dec
1994 Jan, Feb, Aug, Oct Jan, Feb, Aug, Oct Jan, Feb, Aug, Oct
1997 Jul, Aug, Sep, Nov Feb, Oct, Nov, Dec Feb, Aug, Sep, Dec

















APPENDIX B
MALE SCALE


U.r / vWr.Wu
1=Low Body Fat
Not Muscular


2=Low Body Fat 3=Low Body Fat
Somewhat Muscular Very Muscular


4=Medium Body Fat
Not Muscular


5=Medium Body Fat
Somewhat Muscular


6=Medium Body Fat
Very Muscular


7=High Body Fat
Not Muscular


8=High Body Fat
Somewhat Muscular
















APPENDIX C
CODING RULES




Part I Counting Pages

1. Count the number of pages in each magazine by looking at the last page in the
magazine.

2. Adding 4 pages on for the covers, plus any additional "cover flaps."

3. Manually count all the pages in the magazine and add any additional pages
inside that are not included in the printed number of pages (and number with a
sticky according to the directions in #4, to avoid having to recount later,) with
the exception of inserts. Inserts are defined as being intended for the reader to
remove from the magazine (i.e. music offers).

4. If a page is not counted as a page in the magazine (i.e. Rolling Stone has a lot
of pages that look like pages but have a slightly different paper weight) count
it as the previous page number before and add a ".1", ".2", etc. until next real
page number begins. For ease of coding, mark with a sticky so you don't have
to recount later.

5. Keep track of any special issues of magazines by recording a yes or no on the
coding sheet (i.e. Sports Illustrated swim suit edition).

Part II Counting Masculine Images

1. Count any page as containing a masculine images) if there is at least part of a
male torso (the human body excluding the head and limbs) -- back, front, or
side view -- on the page, with the following exceptions:

a. Do not count pictures of pictures. (i.e. pictures of album covers,
picture of a picture of someone on TV or in a movie)
b. Do not count cartoons or art work.
c. Do not count images that are smaller than 2 inches wide or 2
inches in length.









2. If the image is a head shot and you can see some of the chest or shoulders,
then count the image. If you can only see the head and lower neck, do not
count as an image.

3. If the image is a leg shot and does not show any torso above the waist, do not
count it as an image.

4. If an image spreads across two pages (i.e. a double-truck) record both page
numbers on one line of the code sheet.

5. Designate cover as ".1", inside front cover as ".2", inside back cover as ".3",
and back cover as ".4" for coding purposes.

6. If there is an extra flap on the cover add another decimal place, such as 42.11
to indicate a fold out on the front cover side and 42.22 to indicate the fold out
on the inside front cover side.

Part III Coding Masculine Images

1. To be codable, the masculine images (torsos) must be shirtless or have on
form fitting clothing that allow the researcher to determine muscular
definition/level of body fat.

2. Muscular definition: Check for biceps or pectorals and abdominal
definition.

3. Level of Fat: Look for protruding stomach or waist, "love handles," or a
softness in the abdominal area.

4. PICK THE CLOSEST REPRESENTATION ON THE SCALE.

5. For example, if an image has large biceps, and/or large pectorals AND bumpy
or defined abdominal muscles, pick the "very muscular" category. Then
examine the abdominal area. If the area is soft or protruding pick the medium
fat/very muscular category. If the area is flat or concave pick the low fat/very
muscular category.

6. Rule #1 needs to be applied to all images (i.e. pictures of obese men in suits or
other non formfitting attire will not be coded even though it is easier to judge
their muscular definition and level of body fat, to avoid overrepresentation of
this category in coding.

7. If there is more than one codable image on the page, count clockwise starting
at the upper left hand corer of the page.






80


8. If the same codable image appears separately on more than one page or the
same page, code it as many times as it appears.

9. Keep a separate tally of the images that are codable since pages that contain
masculine images may have more than one codable image per page.

10. If the image is a double truck (over two pages) code it as only 1 image.













APPENDIX D
CODING SHEETS


Mag Special Month Year Total Page Image # (if more Cat #1-8 from
Issue? __Pages than one per page) male scale*


I I 1 _


I I 1 _


I i 1 1


I il 1 _ _


I it l 1 ___


*Category: 0= "Not Codable"


I it l 1 ___
















REFERENCES


Abell, Steven and Richard, Maryse H., "The Relationship Between Body Shape
Satisfaction and Self-esteem: An Investigation of Gender and Class
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH


Cheryl Lynn Law was born in 1965 in Brunswick, Maine. She graduated from

Mt. Ararat High School, in Topsham, Maine in 1984 and received a B.A. in Journalism

(Advertising) and Psychology from the University of Maine in 1989. While attending

college, she received a commission in the U.S. Army Reserves through the Reserve

Officer Training Corps in 1988.

After graduating from the University of Maine, she attended the Defense

Information School's Public Affairs Officer Course and Electronic Journalism Course at

Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. Following her completion of these courses, she moved

to Southern California where, in addition to managing training issues at an Army reserve

public affairs detachment in Los Angles, she worked as a graphic artist in for two weekly

newspapers.

In 1992, Cheryl moved to Europe where she lived in Greece and Germany. She

helped plan and execute U.S. military public affairs activities for WWII commemoration

activities in Normandy, France, and conducted media relations activities during the

Rwandan relief operation. In 1995, she cross-commissioned into the U.S. Air Force

Reserves and was assigned as a public affairs officer at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe

headquarters, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. She deployed to Aviano Air Base Italy,

during the NATO bombing campaign in Bosnia to assist in media relations, escort news









media representatives to Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina following the Dayton Peace Accord,

and conduct media training exercises for Air Force commanders throughout Europe. In

1996, she was reassigned to the Air Force Press Desk at the Pentagon where she conducts

media relations. She has handled numerous sensitive press inquiries: aircraft crashes,

base closure lawsuits, fraternization, suicide, and sudden high-level personnel changes as

well as worked several high-interest issues regarding military readiness with CNN and

other national outlets.

Following graduation she will relocate to California and work in a public relations

position in the entertainment industry.




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