Date of Degree

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor(s)

Eugenia Paulicelli

Subject Categories

Women's Studies

Keywords

beauty-related consumption behavior; fashion advertising; social networks

Abstract

Sociocultural stereotypes of feminine beauty are widespread in almost every form of popular media, but most pervasively in fashion advertising. The fashion advertising industry overwhelms women with images that represent what is considered to be the "ideal beauty." In reality, for most women such stereotypes of beauty are almost totally unachievable, as the ideal beauty portrayed in advertisements is based on absolute perfection. Advertisers' use of such extreme and unrealistic role models implies that in order for a woman to be considered beautiful she must be perfect, which makes it difficult for her to achieve any level of contentment with her physical appearance.

The purpose of the present study was to investigate how the ideals of excessive thinness and explicit sexuality for women in fashion advertising can occasionally raise comparison standards for physical attractiveness, enhance beliefs about the importance of physical attractiveness in one's socialization process, and lower body satisfaction and level of self-esteem. This effect, which is known as the social comparison, is one of the several theories that are used to explain why and how women internalize the media idealized beauty standards (Festinger, 1954).

As women attempt to adapt to such beauty standards, the majority of them overadapts, sometimes to the point that they experience the self as an object (Kilbourne J. , 1999; Gonzales & Hancock, 2010). The present study examined how these implications may increase the discrepancy between the real and the ideal self and how they determine women's self-presentations on online social networking sites, like Facebook. Lastly, the study attempted to explain how biased perceptions about social reality and the self, originating from fashion advertising, can lead to addictive or conspicuous consumption.

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