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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Media's Impact, Body Image, and Latina Ethnic Sub-group Affiliation
by Stokes, Donald Milton, Ph.D., University of Connecticut, 2012, 101; 3569930
Abstract (Summary)

Body image refers to how a person perceives herself physically. A woman's perception of her physical appearance and her adherence to a cultural ideal of beauty informs her body image. Several determinants shape the development of body image, including sociocultural, psychological, and interpersonal factors, as well as adolescent physique and maturation, history of abuse, and certain types of media exposure (e.g., fashion magazines and a variety of television programming).

Much scholarly critique has argued that popular media perpetuate a "thin ideal" to viewers. Consumers receive distorted information. Heavy media consumers, through sheer volume of exposure, may be more aware of and likely to internalize the societal ideal, which could lead to disturbed body image and eating disorders. Substantial body image and media effects research focuses on print images, while television images are far less studied. Furthermore, Caucasian females are studied more frequently than members of other ethnic groups, such as Latinas (Hispanic females). Existing research examining Latinas tends to aggregate ethnic sub-groups (e.g. Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, etc.) into one homogenous group despite differences in national origin. The present study addresses a paucity of research focusing on ethnicity and ethnic sub-group identification related to body image across disciplines.

A sample comprising 305 self-identified Latinas completed an online survey about television consumption and body image. Television consumption was not predictive of social comparison; however, television consumption did predict awareness of the Eurocentric idealized thin body type. Moreover, sociocultural pressure from friends and family predicted awareness of the idealized thin. Awareness of the idealized thin was positively associated with social comparison, and internalization was positively associated with social comparison. Likewise, social comparison was positively associated with body dissatisfaction and with drive for thinness. The results lend further support for the sociocultural paradigm of body image disturbance. Limitations of the present work are posed along with suggestions for future research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rios, Diana I.
Commitee: Cope-Farrar, Kirstie M., Veksler, Alice E.
School: University of Connecticut
Department: Communication Studies
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 74/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Public health, Ethnic studies, Mass communications, Hispanic American studies
Keywords: Body image, Ethnic sub-group affiliation, Hispanic females, Latinas, Media
Publication Number: 3569930
ISBN: 978-1-303-07921-4
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