Today we live in a world where body image is everything, unfortunate but it seems unavoidable. Everyone cares too much about the way they look and what everyone else thinks about them. According to Sheldon the average American woman is “5’4’’ and 140 pounds, whereas the average female model portrayed in the media is 5’11” and 120 pounds.” The images that we are constantly faced with in magazines, advertising and other media is bound to affect the way we view ourselves.
In her article Pressure To Be Perfect: Influences on College Students’ Body Esteem Pavica Sheldon surveys 224 college students to identify how the pressures constantly being bombarded with images of the perfect woman affects them. Sheldon is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Louisiana State University. Through her study she discovered that perfectionism was not directly related to the media they consumed but rather “higher family and peer pressure and a high score on perfectionism influenced women to compare themselves to the models in fashion magazines and on television.” (Sheldon, 2010)
Although men’s self esteem was also influenced by similar factors it is a lot less common as research by Connor-Greene (1988) shows that 88% of women wish to lose weight whereas 37% of men who are unsatisfied with their body image. Sheldon (2010) projects a feminist view, suggesting that women should view magazine models as photoshopped and women should be empowered to act together with men to eliminate different media outlets which negatively effect their self esteem and condemn healthy eating.
In the article Sheldon discusses eating disorders and factors that contribute to low self esteem. Throughout the article she references many past studies which provide a depth of research and legitimacy to her reportings. Sheldon also constantly discusses the body image of men although she primarily focuses on women. Several social theories are discussed which relate to body image and self esteem. The article focuses on a few different aspects which lead to self esteem issues, namely, family pressure, peer pressure and perfectionism. With questions focused on these areas Sheldon interviewed 224 students; 122 women and 102 men. Additionally, she discusses in detail the different variables which were investigated about each student which may also give some reason for their responses. Some variables included magazines they read and what type of TV they watched, this gives an idea of what sort of media has a greater negative effect on individuals. The article found that women who compare themselves to images in magazines and are under high family and peer pressure have worse self esteem than those who don’t suffer from family and peer pressure. Men’s self esteem is not related to reading magazines but is also related to family and peer pressure.
I found this journal article to be very well researched and very descriptive. Sheldon conveys the whole process of surveying and what it included which gives readers an indepth idea of all the issues and aspects surrounding the pressure to be perfect, especially relating to media. By surveying both women and men it allows us to analyse the different media consumptions between genders. The article also compiles tables which show survey results, furthering the readers knowledge.
Sheldon, P., 2010. Pressure To Be Perfect: Influences on College Students’ Body Esteem.Southern Communication Journal, 75(3), pp.277-298.