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Actual and Perceived Appearances of Media Portrayals: A Golden Girls Study of the Thin Ideal
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by Abbey M. Wanchick - Xavier University
The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of self-esteem and internalization of sociocultural ideals in women's perceptions of media images. After completing the Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ; Cooper, Taylor, Cooper, & Fairburn, 1987) and Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire (SATAQ; Heinberg, Thompson, & Stormer, 1995), participants viewed actual and distorted celebrity photographs and identified the image they thought was accurate. The photographs depicted 8 female celebrities in their actual size, appearing 25% heavier, and appearing 25% thinner. The research hypothesis postulated that women with low concern regarding body appearance (according to BSQ and SATAQ scores) would select the actual/heavier celebrity images and those participants with high concern regarding body appearance would select the thinnest images. Statistically significant results confirmed this hypothesis.