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Kelsea Vaillancourt

(HDF 100)

Parent, Peer, and Media Influences on Body Images and


Strategies to Both Increase and Decrease Body Size Among
Adolescent Boys and Girls

Kelsea Vaillancourt
Todays kids and teens are constantly being told to change their appearance. Whether it
be the media showing girls what the ideal body weight and size is, or a father pressuring his
son to work out and gain muscle mass; this kind of pressure can be rough on a childs selfesteem. This article is about a study that was conducted to see just how much the media, family
members, and friends influence young people to change their bodies. The article is very relevant
because this is an issue that is happening right now, all over the world. It is interesting to read
actual statistics about this issue and know just what is causing the most pressure to enhance
our bodies.
The author of this article did not state a clear hypothesis, but is intending to find out what
the main source of the criticism of teens bodies is. The researcher also wants to find out if these
influences affect boys or girls more. Opposite-sex and same-sex influencers and their impact on
the children are also studied. These are important factors to determine when studying this issue.
The author wants to know what the difference in being pressured to change is between young
boys and young girls, and where the pressure is coming from.
This research consisted of studying 1,266 different teens (622 boys, 644 girls) of varying
ages (12-16) from ten schools in Melbourne, Australia. The children that were studied were of
varying racial backgrounds. All of the students completed an inventory for this study, titled The
Body Image and Body Change Inventory, and The Sociocultural Influences on Body Image and
Body Change Questionnaire. The inventory that they took assessed their satisfaction with their

Kelsea Vaillancourt
body, the importance of body image to them, and the many different strategies they take to
change their body. The questionnaire studied what the source of the pressure to change their
bodies was (the mother, father, male best-friend, female best-friend, or the media). It also
assessed what the specific feedback they received from these sources was. The things they were
pressured to do were to either lose weight and decrease body mass, or to gain weight and
increase muscle mass. What the teens have seen from the media (television, magazines, movies,
etc.) that may have given them the impression to change their appearances has also been studied.
The students Body Mass Indexes (BMIS) were recorded. They were then broken up into
groups: an overweight group, an average group, and an underweight group. It was studied
whether the pressure placed on the students differed depending on which weight group they were
placed in. The researcher wanted to know if people who are more overweight were influenced
more to change their bodies.
It was determined that the females is this study had significantly less confidence in their
body shape, size, and weight than their male counterparts. Females also placed more importance
on body image. Females took more measures to lose weight, while more males took measures to
gain weight and muscle. As one would guess, those in the overweight group showed more
dissatisfaction with themselves than those in the average or underweight groups.

Kelsea Vaillancourt
Those in the highest weight group also admitted to having more strategies to change their
bodies than the others. The ways that the teens viewed themselves was different depending on
grade level as well. Those in ninth grade were more motivated to gain weight and muscle than
those in seventh grade. Those in eighth, ninth, and tenth grade were also less satisfied with
themselves than those in seventh grade. The ninth grade students used more supplements than
any other grade level.
It was discovered that mothers put more pressure on their sons to lose weight, or to gain
muscle, than their fathers did. On the other hand, it was shown that fathers put more pressure on
their daughters to lose weight than the mothers did. It was concluded that there was more
opposite sex influence on the studied teens. Also found in the study, male friends and female
friends were both more likely to pressure females to lose weight than males. Female friends were
more likely to influence males to gain more muscle than male friends were, however. It was also
concluded that females are far more affected by the media than males.
This article was very interesting to read. The things that were concluded from the study,
however, were things that most people already could infer. It seems that girls are more worried
about being skinny and boys are more worried about being muscular. Girls are more influenced
by others and the media. This study is very relevant to todays society. Its important for people
to see these statistics and also to become more satisfied with their own body type and stop trying
so hard to change themselves.

References:
Marita P. McCabe and Lina A. Ricciardelli (2001) Parent, Peer, and Media Influences on
Body Images and Strategies to Both Increase and Decrease Body Size Among Adolescent
Boys and Girls, Abstract