Makeover Shows Increase Body Anxiety
The more makeover shows a person watches, including the whole variety of TV shows like Nip/Tuck, the more anxiety they feel about their bodies. Women in particular are drawn to watching such shows which fundamentally seem to act as advertising for cosmetic surgery and related procedures.
Aesthetic plastic surgery is big business. Since 1997 there has been a 444 percent increase in procedures, with over 90 percent being conducted on women. Over $12.4 billion has been spent on cosmetic surgery since 2006. And if you think the appeal is only for middle-aged and older women, think again. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery say the number of breast augmentation procedures for 18 year-olds tripled between 2002-2003.
Professor Julie Albright, of the University of Southern California, surveyed 662 college students in Los Angeles and Buffalo about their viewing habits and body image. The study entitled, Impossible Bodies, is published in Configurations Journal from Johns Hopkins University Press.
Findings of note were students in Buffalo, whose parental income averaged $70,000, had more body anxiety than the L.A. students, whose parental income averaged $100,000. Albright found another interesting difference between the students. Those in Buffalo believed that body issues could negatively affect their chance of success in life, while L.A. students inclined towards a belief of moral failing due to parts of the body they felt represented a problem.
The show, Extreme Makeover, is ABC's second-highest rated show for the under 50s. Professor Albright says that issues of status have shifted from the days when, for example, buying an expensive purse was sufficient to show off status. "Now they might buy new breasts as a sign of their success," says Albright.
Because such shows offer increased visibility, Albright believes they have led to increased acceptance. The effect of all this is to turn on the pressure for women to conform to some idealized standard of physical perfection. Although women seem to believe that a surgically enhanced body is more attractive to men, the men in the study disagreed.
University of Southern California (2009, January 25). Makeover Shows Correspond With Increased Body Anxiety. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/01/090122163319.htm