Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

Is the Thin Ideal Harmful?

There has been a lot of research done that shows us that exposure to objectifying and sexualized images  really does make a difference in the way kids feel and behave.

For girls, looking at fashion magazines that promotes a “thin” ideal, watching prime time TV, and music videos with sexualized images is closely linked to depressive symptoms and low self-esteem. For both boys and girls, the more time they spend engaging with media, the lower their grades and the less contentment they express, especially related to who they are and their everyday lives.

So, spending time with media does make a difference in how kids feel about themselves. Higher rates of media involvement leads to higher rates of negative feelings and behaviors.  That’s an important thing for us to know. If it makes a difference, we need to pay attention to that.

Operation: Transformation is about asking for healthier media and marketing options for children. We need to see more media depictions of a variety of body types. We need to see a focus on health rather than meeting a certain ideal. Healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and the beauty of that needs to be represented in the media.


2 comments on “Is the Thin Ideal Harmful?

  1. Kimberly Thompson
    November 5, 2014

    I wonder if the “thin ideal” is really kind of an index for the “young ideal.” It is clear that runway models are usually teens, sometimes very young teens. It is also clear to me looking at celebrities that keep their weight very low, that “very thin” looks less and less attractive as you age. I also wonder if we will always have problems with the “thin ideal” as long as we value staying young (or in the absence of youth, at least appearing young) over celebrating and valuing what we gain as we age (we act like all we gain is weight!).

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      November 5, 2014

      Great insight, Kim. The youth and thinness ideals seem to go hand in hand.

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This entry was posted on November 5, 2014 by in For Teens and Tweens, Recognizing.
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