Uses of media-reported female body parameters - A contribution to the study of body image
AuthorsLewis, Stephen J.
AffiliationChester College of Higher Education
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AbstractThe portrayal of the female body in the media has been shown to influence body image and self esteem amongst young women. While visual comparisons with those portrayed by the media as beautiful are prone to subjective judgment, when numerical values for such parameters as height, weight, bust, waist and hip size are reported, more objective comparisons may be made and may prompt some to strive to attain certain numerical ideals. Whether the measurements given are true or accurate is secondary to the fact of their reportage and their availability for such use. Data pertaining to over 500 of 'Playboy' magazine's 'playmates' were obtained - being readily available via the Internet - from which it was possible to determine a number of anthropometric features. The use of such data in academic studies is not new although the scope of previous use seems to have been somewhat limited. The present study, therefore, sought to determine alternative ways of using such data to characterize the physiques portrayed. A simple comparison with UK dress sizes, available in high street stores, showed that the characteristic 'playmate' physique did not generally conform to standard proportions - bust size, for example, being greater than catered for by standard sizes. However, despite this dimensional excess, the mean Body Mass Index was below 20. This latter finding, representing a state of mild starvation, is a potential cause for concern should the typical heights and weights from which it is derived be used by more vulnerable individuals to influence their own physique.
CitationAn abstract of this presentation appeared in Annals of Human Biology 28, 2001, pp. 354-6
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