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Bettina Pikó & Annabella Obál: The Role of Body Image- Related and Psychological Variables in Adolescent Girls’ Attitudes Towards Appearance in the Media

Body image is closely linked to sociocultural background, and, among others, appearance in the media. This is especially relevant for adolescent girls for whom body image is susceptible to external social stimuli while their self-esteem is often low. Mapping their cultural atittudes towards appearance in the media is extraordinarily useful for health education programs aiming at attitude formation. Therefore, attitudes towards appearance in the media were in the focus of our research, in particular, we aimed at detecting their relationship with some relevant psychological scales, such as optimism, body appreciation, self-esteem, satisfaction with life, proactive coping, and body image-related variables. The sample consisted of adolescent girls (N=454; aged between 14–20 years, mean=16.3 years and SD=1.1). Self-administered questionnaire was used as a method of data collection. Our findings confirm that body image and satisfaction with one’s own body are associated with appearance-related information obtained from the media and the internalization of the thin and muscular ideal. Instead of Body Mass Index, the subjective evaluation of one’s body contributed to forming these atittudes and their behavioral consequences. Being on a slimming diet, engagement in sports activities, or the presence of eating disorder or obesity in the family may also result in an elevated susceptibility to internalization of the thin and muscular ideal. Besides body appreciation, self-esteem played a key protective role against internalization of and pressure from the appearance-related messages from the media. In terms of other potential protective psychological factors, satisfaction with life, optimism, self-esteem and proactive coping may also contribute to a lower level of this internalization but only to a limited degree. We can conclude that strengthening self-esteem and self-acceptance should get priority in health education to prevent internalization of the thin ideal suggested by the media.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 118. Number 4. 309-325. (2018)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Pikó Bettina és Obál Annabella, Szegedi Tudományegyetem ÁOK Magatartástudományi Intézet, H–6722 Szeged, Szentháromság u. 5.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia