The developmental effects of media-ideal internalization and self-objectification processes on adolescents’ negative body-feelings, dietary restraint, and binge eating

  • Dakanalis A
  • Carrà G
  • Calogero R
 et al. 
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Abstract

Despite accumulated experimental evidence of the negative effects of exposure to media-idealized images, the degree to which body image, and eating related disturbances are caused by media portrayals of gendered beauty ideals remains controversial. On the basis of the most up-to-date meta-analysis of experimental studies indicating that media-idealized images have the most harmful and substantial impact on vulnerable individuals regardless of gender (i.e., "internalizers" and "self-objectifiers"), the current longitudinal study examined the direct and mediated links posited in objectification theory among media-ideal internalization, self-objectification, shame and anxiety surrounding the body and appearance, dietary restraint, and binge eating. Data collected from 685 adolescents aged between 14 and 15 at baseline (47 % males), who were interviewed and completed standardized measures annually over a 3-year period, were analyzed using a structural equation modeling approach. Results indicated that media-ideal internalization predicted later thinking and scrutinizing of one's body from an external observer's standpoint (or self-objectification), which then predicted later negative emotional experiences related to one's body and appearance. In turn, these negative emotional experiences predicted subsequent dietary restraint and binge eating, and each of these core features of eating disorders influenced each other. Differences in the strength of these associations across gender were not observed, and all indirect effects were significant. The study provides valuable information about how the cultural values embodied by gendered beauty ideals negatively influence adolescents' feelings, thoughts and behaviors regarding their own body, and on the complex processes involved in disordered eating. Practical implications are discussed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Binge eating
  • Body image
  • Media-ideal internalization
  • Objectification

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