The Media’s Role in Body Image and Eating Disorders

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



mass media; media exposure; women; girls; feminine body ideal; body image disturbance; eating disorders; eating dysfunction; eating behaviors; early intervention; prevention; theories

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



The feminine body ideal changed throughout history and became much more uniform with the growing influence of the mass media. As a result of this influence, the ideal female body shape has become increasingly thin, even as the size of the average woman has become progressively larger. In this chapter, we review some of the survey, experimental, and longitudinal data indicting media as a formative and pervasive factor in women's and girl's body-image disturbance and eating dysfunction, outline recent theoretical approaches, and summarize promising new avenues in the prevention and early intervention arena. With numerous empirical studies indicating that both print and television media exert a powerful influence on the body ideals and eating behaviors of girls and women, the following questions become paramount: What potential pathways might explain the media exposure effect? Are certain women more greatly affected by exposure? What variables seem to be protective?

Citation / Publisher Attribution

The Media’s Role in Body Image and Eating Disorders, in E. Cole & J. H. Daniel (Eds.), Featuring Females: Feminist Analyses of Media, American Psychological Association, p. 41-56