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Wednesday, April 22 • 11:00am - 1:00pm
Female Body Messages in Television Then and Now

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Young adult females internalize body image messages from an array of media sources. Popular television series are a main source of influence, often displaying unrealistically thin ideals. Prior research has shown that viewing thin female characters is detrimental to female viewers, leading to body dissatisfaction and other negative psychological outcomes. In light of such negative consequences for females, there has been increased awareness of how displays of thinness in the media have become the norm, failing to represent realistic female bodies. We sought to examine whether body types in popular television shows have changed in response to this attention. In addition, we analyzed messages about weight and body size that were present in the same shows. We selected six Emmy award-winning shows, three current and three from ten years ago. Using a 9-point scale to assess body mass, ranging from thin to overweight, we will compile a mean size of female characters across all the shows; we will then compare shows from the two time periods in the effort to evaluate change over time. We will also summarize the number of body-positive or body-negative messages that take place in the shows. We hope our findings will demonstrate progress in television portrayals, with increased incorporation of more realistic female bodies and positive body messages. If this is not the case, our findings will suggest that that television producers need to make changes in casting and scripts in the effort to improve psychological well-being of their female viewership.

Wednesday April 22, 2015 11:00am - 1:00pm PDT
Wilma Sherril Center Concourse

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