Much of the modern culture has been shaped by TV, and a new research shows that TV has actually seriously skewed how people view women. As it turns out, the more time one spends watching TV, the more they prefer skinnier female bodies.
According to the study conducted by researchers at Durham University in the U.K, this phenomenon is caused by most TV programs. They portray thinner women much more frequently than plus-size women, or any other body type for that matter. So, this puts pressure on young women to constantly aspire to attain that “thin ideal body”.
Researchers surveyed men and women from several villages in remote areas in Nicaragua that had either regular access to TV, or very low access to TV. The results show that those with limited television access preferred women with a higher BMI index than those who watcher TV regularly.
The villages in Nicaragua were chosen because they had very similar ecological constraints like income, nutrition, and education, but had very different access to TV.
According to the study’s authors, this is the best proof so far that TV has an effect on our perceptions of the ideal body, and that the representation of the “thin ideal” body can lead to body dissatisfaction in women, as well as other issues such as depression and anxiety.
Lead author Lynda Boothroyd, a professor of psychology at Durham University said in a media release that TV and advertising bosses have a moral responsibility to use actors, presenters, and models of all shapes and sizes in order to avoid stigmatizing larger bodies, and she believes there needs to be a shift towards a “health at every size” attitude. The media has a very important role to play in that, and it’s a fact.
The 299 Nicaraguan villagers generally did not have access to the internet, or even magazines, and none of them had a smartphone. Each participant was asked to rate the attractiveness of different female bodies, all of different shapes and sizes, and those who had TV access had a much more skewed view and opinion of female bodies when compared to villagers who had no access to television.
The study has been published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.