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How Do Magazines Affect Body Image?

Updated on Aug 10, 2009

Many magazines (especially those for teens) offer content about how to look good. These magazines include three things that can affect body image:

  • Articles about appearance -- These articles often include information on how get "perfect" ab muscles, advice on how to apply makeup, and tips on what to wear.
  • Advertisements -- Magazines often include ads for beauty and hair products, clothing and perfume. Many of these ads feature women that are underweight and men who are overly muscular.
  • Photos -- Most photos in magazines are altered so that wrinkles, fat, and pores disappear. Readers only see perfect and unrealistic bodies represented.

One study found that 70% of teen girls agreed that magazines strongly influenced what they thought was the ideal body type. (See this study) Seeing all this content related to appearance can make children and teens feel badly. When they compare their developing bodies to the images in magazines, they might feel depressed that they do not look like what they see.

While most of the body image research has looked at how magazines affect girls, research is beginning to show that boys are affected by magazine images as well. (See this study)

When people are unhappy with their bodies, it can lead to depression, anxiety, or even eating disorders.

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