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Exposure to thin-ideal media can contribute to increased body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls. Understanding the factors that may prevent or exacerbate the negative effects of media exposure on body dissatisfaction is important to facilitate prevention of these problems. This study evaluated the effects of exposure to thin-ideal media images on body image in three instructional set experimental conditions: appearance comparison, peer norms, and control. An important aim was to examine baseline levels of media literacy as a protective factor and trait thin-ideal internalization and trait upward appearance comparison as risk factors. Early adolescent girls (N = 246) completed baseline measures and 1 week later viewed thin-ideal media images, before and after which they rated their state body satisfaction. Participants in the appearance comparison instruction but not peer norms instruction condition had significantly reduced body satisfaction. Media literacy, particularly high levels of critical thinking, mitigated the negative effects of trait thin-ideal internalization and trait upward appearance comparison on body satisfaction outcomes. These findings provide evidence for the role of media literacy as a protective factor against the negative effects on body satisfaction of exposure to thin-ideal media images, and also provide evidence to support the development and implementation of media literacy-based body image interventions.
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- Does Media Literacy Mitigate Risk for Reduced Body Satisfaction Following Exposure to Thin-Ideal Media?
Siân A. McLean
Susan J. Paxton
Eleanor H. Wertheim
- Springer US