The media has long been criticized for the unhealthy manner in which it characterizes weight and body types. Evidence indicates that exposure to these media messages can influence audience members about their own and others’ health and attractiveness and impact viewers’ psychological well-being. Studies also found that females are more susceptible to these media messages than men; more than 50 percent of girls and college-aged women are affected by body- image disturbance, which may begin to develop as early as age 7.
Dana Mastro, professor of communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Andrea Figueroa-Caballero, doctoral student from the same university, conducted a content analysis of prime-time television programs of nine broadcast and cable networks in the United States to examine the ways body types were represented. The networks and channels were ABC, AMC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, USA, TBS and TNT.
The authors found that women have become increasingly thin on TV. Thinner characters were more attractive than overweight characters. The few obese and overweight characters presented were less articulate, less intelligent and more likely to be ridiculed than thinner characters. Black characters on prime-time were heavier than other racial and ethnic groups, and these characters were seen as more likeable.
To read the full text of this study: https://bit.ly/2MwwVNQ
Mastro, D., & Figueroa-Caballero, A. (2018). Measuring Extremes: A Quantitative Content Analysis of Prime Time TV Depictions of Body Type. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 62(2), 320-336.