All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Fred J Biasini

Advisory Committee Members

Krista Casazza

Kevin R Fontaine

Kristina M Visscher

Nefertiti H Durant

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences


Contemporary society, including social and main-stream media, perpetuate unrealistic body ideals through their promotion of slender, thin-ideal body shapes and sizes that are typically photo-shopped to appear even thinner. More specifically, portrayal of the thin-ideal can negatively influence body dissatisfaction. Viewing slender models is associated with increased body dissatisfaction, while viewing average or plus size models is associated with decreased body dissatisfaction. This difference in effect of model size (slender vs. average vs. plus-size) on body dissatisfaction varies based on whether individuals compare themselves to others they view as more or less attractive than themselves. The purpose of this study was to evaluate if displaying these media images in their original, untouched forms would reduce the effect of thin-ideal media exposure on body dissatisfaction, thin-ideal internalization, and state appearance comparison (i.e., social comparison with the media images being viewed) among college females (M age = 19.4 years). This study was divided into two phases. Phase one (n=27) was designed to validate images used in phase two (n=244), where the effect of photo-shopping media images on outcome variables was assessed. Body dissatisfaction, thin-ideal internalization, and perceived media pressure were assessed pre- and post- exposure and state appearance comparison was assessed post-exposure. Body dissatisfaction (t (238) = -5.52, p 0.001), thin-ideal internalization (t (237) = -2.32, p = 0.02), and perceived media pressure (t (238) = -3.58, p 0.001) significantly increased from baseline to post-exposure. However, there were no significant group effects on body dissatisfaction (F (1, 232) = 0.02, p = 0.89), thin-ideal internalization (F (1, 231) = 3.46, p = 0.06), perceived media pressure (F (1, 232) = 1.34, p = 0.25), or state appearance comparison (F (1, 233) = 0.10, p =0.75) between the untouched and retouched conditions. These results suggest it is likely not photo-shopping of models, but rather the size and/or weight of the models being portrayed, that is associated with increased body dissatisfaction and thin-ideal internalization. Therefore, rather than focusing on policies to prohibit photo-shop use in professional media sources, it may be more beneficial to begin by implementing minimum BMI restrictions for models.



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