Watching TV Increases Preferences for Slimmer Female Figure: Study
Fri, December 3, 2021

Watching TV Increases Preferences for Slimmer Female Figure: Study

Not every person has the same standard of physical attractiveness and such difference is more apparent in various cultures / Photo by: Viacheslav Iakobchuk via 123RF

 

Not every person has the same standard of physical attractiveness and such difference is more apparent in various cultures. Long-necked women is a standard of beauty in a certain tribe in Myanmar, a shaved head and stretched earlobes are considered beautiful in other parts of Africa, tattoo on the chin is attractive in New Zealand, and pale skin is a sign of beauty in many Asian countries.

Body Size and Shape Attractiveness

There is also a particular body size and shape that makes women attractive to others. In a resource-scarce area, for instance, body fat is attractive. A new study that appeared in the US National Library of Medicine revealed though that watching television increases a person’s preference for slimmer and curvier women.

Lynda Boothroyd from the Department of Psychology and colleagues from Durham University obtained an ethnically balanced sample of 299 people and followed it with individual analysis for more than three years. Their fieldwork was done in the Pearl Lagoon communities of Nicaragua, a country in Central America.

Majority of the population in Pearl Lagoon has no access to television or the internet. Media access was likewise limited even among those who can afford a satellite subscription or television because there is a lack of electricity in the area. It was only in recent years when the Nicaraguan government started to spread the electricity grid in the remote area, thus increasing people’s access to media. This led the team to their experiment.  They compared those who lived in areas that were geographically the same in terms of television access.

Hollywood action movies and Latin American telenovelas or soap operas were the popular shows in the communities that were a part of their studies. Study subjects were then asked whether they have a TV at home or had access to television through a friend’s home that they often visit. They were also asked how many hours of TV they watched in the last week.

There is also a particular body size and shape that makes women attractive to others. In a resource-scarce area, for instance, body fat is attractive / Photo by: 9nong via 123RF

 

Bodyweight Preference Task

A bodyweight preference task was completed by the participants. The task involved rating the level of attractiveness of the 50 pictures of women presented to them. These women have varied body sizes. Some are thin (BMI 11) while others are heavier (BMI 42). To make sure that their attractiveness is rated on the body size and shape alone, faces of the women were not visible and they were all wearing the same form-fitting leotards clothes. The pictures were shown to them in random order and participants were informed that there were no wrong or right answers.

How Preferences to Fatter or Thinner Bodies Are Formed

The results of their experiment showed that the more TV hours the subjects watched, the more they would rate slimmer women to be attractive than those who watch zero to one hour of TV. Moreover, those who watched TV shows three to four hours a week preferred thinner women. Those who prefer larger bodies also come from villages with the lowest level of TV access. Subjects with higher levels of education likewise prefer slimmer figures.

Boothroyd and the team speculated that body preference could be due to Western media exposure. For instance, those with higher education levels travel to larger towns for their education and they are exposed to Western media.

The results of their experiment showed that the more TV hours the subjects watched, the more they would rate slimmer women to be attractive than those who watch zero to one hour of TV / Photo by: Jakkapan Jabjainai via 123RF

 

Perception of attractiveness and cultural influences

For their follow-up study, they conducted a test on body preferences among participants who have no access to television at all. Half of the study participants viewed images of plus-size models while the other half viewed the photos of thin size fashion models for 15 minutes. The result shows that those who spent 15 minutes watching photos of thinner models also favored thin body figure and the same effect for those who viewed the photos of plus-size models. Body shape attractiveness is easily changed by cultural influences, the team concluded via behavioral research magazine Psychology Today.

Technology Adoption and TV Subscriber: Statistics

The Internet and Television Association NCTA shared that in 2019, there are about 660 cable operators in the US running 5,200 cable systems to reach 90% of the country’s population. Our World in Data, a scientific online publication that focuses on large global problems, also shared the data on technology adoption in US households. In 2000, 94% of US households have access to color TV, 96% in 2002, 97% in 2004, and 96% in 2006. The popularity of mobile phones with no landlines started in 2013 with 40% US household adopting technology.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistic’s American Time Use Survey (ATUS), people spent an average of 2 hours and 46 minutes per day watching TV. ATUS has considered streaming shows and watching live programming as “watching TV.” Chart data also shows that 54.3% watch TV alone, 57.2% with family, 42.3% with spouse or partner, 20.2% with children, and 3.8% with friends.

Media can affect people’s perception of beauty ideals and this includes what “normal” body weight and type are. While media is good for beauty inspiration, this also puts pressure and causes body dissatisfaction, especially to young girls.

Additional reference: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/technology-adoption-by-households-in-the-united-states?time=1966..2018&country=Cable%20TV+Colour%20TV+Households%20with%20only%20mobile%20phones%20(no%20landlines)