Real women on real beauty: self-discrepancy, internalization of the thin ideal, and perceptions of attractiveness and thinness in Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty

Kimberly Bissell

University of Alabama

Amy Rask

Media Research Lab


Research in the area of body image distortion suggests the media are one of many potential variables related to increases in disordered eating, especially in college and adolescent female women. The media are often held partially responsible for young females’ desire to be extraordinarily thin because of the number of media messages promoting the ‘thin ideal’. The general conclusion among researchers is that exposure to thinness-depicting and promoting (TDP) media is related to greater body dissatisfaction, lower body self-esteem and self-objectification in school-aged females. Numerous studies (Garner et al. 1980; Gagnard 1986; Silverstein et al. 1986; Andersen & DiDomenico 1992; Wiseman et al. 1992; Nemeroff et al. 1994; Cash & Henry 1995; Spitzer et al. 1999; Owen & Laurel-Seller 2000) have found that the body shape standard for women has become increasingly thinner over the decades, while other studies (see Bowen & Schmid 1997; Schooler et al. 2004) have documented a lack of diversity in terms of the female body shape most prevalent in multiple media forms.