The Social Comparison of Fashion Print Advertisements and Female College Students Body Image

LaToiya C. Payton, Bridgett Clinton*, University of Maryland Eastern Shore

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Abstract This study contributes to the understanding of how the mass media’s representation of the idealistic adult female affects the perceived body image and social comparison habits of the everyday woman. A self-report survey was distributed to female college students who responded to questions related to their body image, social comparison, and attitude towards advertisements. In addition, college females were exposed to a total of two advertisements featuring images of models advertising fashion products. Survey results revealed that the culture of society did not influence college females’ body image perceptions through the social comparison of print advertisements. However, the study did reveal that college females were more influenced by the social comparison of their peers rather than print advertisements.

Introduction: In American culture, significant emphasis is placed on body, weight, size and appearance. As a result, American society often unfairly judges others and labels women based on their weight and size alone. Throughout history, the standard of female beauty often has been unrealistic and difficult to attain. Those with money and higher socioeconomic status were far more likely to be able to conform to these standards. The current media culture is complicated and very confusing, inundating women with mixed messages about what is sexy and making it difficult to choose a role model (Derenne & Beresin, 2006). Females often aspire to be perfect. The ideal female form is often described as tall, extremely thin, and blond. The media heavily portrays females in stereotypical ways in regard to body image and it has a profound impact on females. Media pressure to be thin influences females to have negative feelings about their appearance.

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