Media messages about body image and food: Adolescent perceptions of contradictory messages in television commercials
Master of Social Work (MSW)
Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work
This study had two primary purposes, the first of which was to examine contemporary television media messages and to ascertain whether there exists an ideological contradiction between messages associated with ideal body types and messages associated with obesity. The second purpose was to explore adolescents' perceptions of these messages and to understand their possible effects on adolescents. This study was conducted using a fallibilitic realism methodological approach. Two data collection methods were used in this study. A content analysis of current television commercials was conducted, from which three major findings emerged. First, there was a high frequency of commercials containing explicit messages associated with the female ideal body type. Second, there was an almost equal frequency of commercials containing implicit messages associated with the female ideal body type and of commercials containing implicit messages associated with the male ideal body type. Third, there was a lower frequency of commercials containing relevant explicit messages as compared to that of commercials containing relevant implicit messages, with the exception of commercials containing messages associated with obesity. Focus groups with female and male adolescents were also conducted. Three main findings emerged from these focus groups. Females noticed explicit and implicit messages, were articulate about implicit messages, and internalized implicit messages about body types. Males noticed explicit and implicit messages, but did not discuss messages about male body types and were not articulate about implicit messages. Lastly, both female and male participants noticed and were confused by the cultural contradiction between messages associated with ideal body types and obesity. The study concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for research, communication studies, and social work.
Wise, Carrie, "Media messages about body image and food: Adolescent perceptions of contradictory messages in television commercials" (2005). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 182.