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Textbook, 2013, 110 Pages
Table of Figures
2. Self, Identity, and Meaning-Transfer in Consumer Behaviour
McCracken’s Meaning-Transfer Model
2.1. Body-Image Meaning-Transfer
Consumer Culture Theory
2.1.1. First Location of Cultural Meaning:
The Culturally Constituted World
2.1.2. Instruments of Meaning Transfer: World to Body-Image:
Mainstream Advertising, Media, and Celebrity Culture
2.1.3. Second Location of Cultural Meaning:
2.1.4. Instruments of Meaning-Transfer: Body-Image to Individual Consumer:
The Feeling of Anxiety and Guilt
The Feeling of Public Observation
The Feeling of Failure
2.1.5. Third Location of Cultural Meaning:
The Individual Consumer
Behavioural Responses to the Exposure of Body-Ideals among Women
Behavioural Responses to the Exposure of Body-Ideals among Men
3. Approaches against the Current Mainstream Body-Image
3.1. Bans against Delusive, Surreal Body-Images
3.2. Campaigns on Healthier Body-Images
3.3. Can Mainstream BIMT Be Changed Through These Campaigns?
4. Research Methodology
Methods of Data Collection
5. Analysis and Findings
Key Findings for BIMT in Group A
Key Findings for BIMT in Group B
Participants’ Perceptions of Approaches against Mainstream AMCC in Group A
Participants’ Perceptions of Approaches against Mainstream AMCC in Group B
6. Conclusion and Recommendations
7. Limitations and Further Research
Books and Articles
Appendix A: Focus Group Discussion Questions
Appendix B: Questionnaire
Appendix C1: Findings Group A (UK)
Appendix C2: Findings Group B (Germany)
Appendix D: Quantitative Data generated by Questionnaire
The following investigation deals with the impact of the sociocultural environment on body-image in Western consumer culture. Based on McCracken’s (1986) meaning-transfer model, the author has created a body-image meaning-transfer (BIMT) model. It suggests how cultural discourse and interactions can shape individual consumers’ understanding of socially ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bodies. It emphasizes the notable impact of mainstream advertising, media, and celebrity culture that commonly promote a thin-and-muscular beauty-ideal, and the process of normalization which implies feelings of guilt, anxiety, public observation, and failure. Both can ultimately lead to negative body-images and body-dissatisfaction among individuals. In contrast, alternative campaigns against the current beauty-ideal and towards healthier body-images are introduced. Two focus group discussions among young adults from the UK and Germany gave insight to the timeliness of the topic concerned, and prove the validity of BIMT in contemporary Western consumer culture. Also, they reveal the general longing for more normality and identification in media-imagery as attempted by alternative campaigners. Consequently, recommendations suggest to rather portraying the existing sociocultural multiplicity in order to create positive body-images, and to build sustainable relationships of mutual value between marketers and customers.
Key Words: Body-Image; Meaning; Self-Concept; Culture; Body/Mind Dualism.
The topic of body-image has ever touched and concerned me. Adolescence and young adulthood helped me realize how crucial it is to further research in this field and to spread the word about this sensitive and vulnerable topic.
Indeed, I believe we all long for a society in which we are accepted and can love ourselves just as we are. Why is this so difficult though, almost impossible? Where does the immense body-image pressure stem from? Is it the continuing progress in science and medicine that enables human beings to strive actively for increased perfection? Is it the growing impact of pervasive media messages? Is it the lack in religious faith that makes body-culture a new religion in modern society? Or do we all just scream for attention? Why is it obviously impossible to be satisfied with the way we are?
Admittedly, these are questions one could expect to be asked by a child and not by an adult. Still, I dare asking them with all confidence whilst addressing everybody in today’s society to be less ignorant towards the problems caused by these tendencies, and to care for happiness and self-love in our society, also for the sake of future generations.
It is my honest wish and my aspiration to contribute to a change towards the social acceptance of more realistic, natural, and diversified body-images, to realize the existing problems and to work for solutions, even though I may only deliver small steps.
I wish to emphasize that writing this text fulfilled me with great motivation and increasing passion for the topic concerned.
Having said this, I would like to thank all the people who have inspired and encouraged me to write about this sensitive topic. Big thanks to my friends from Germany and the UK who agreed to contribute to my focus group discussions and to share their experiences on this field. Your contributions clearly enriched my work, and it’s been a pleasure working with you all!
Thanks also to my parents, Jutta and Ulrich Jobsky, for supporting me during my studies and for providing a strong fundament of familiar love that helped me go through the heights and depths of that time.
Moreover, big thanks to my boyfriend Sebastian Kleim for your invaluable discussions about the topic, for your patience, for all those moments you made me smile, and for your relentless support. It all means so much to me!
I would also like to thank my residual friends for always being there for me, most notably Sophie McCarter, for your great contributions, inspirations, and especially for proof reading this text.
Last but not least, special thanks to my supervisor Julie McKeown at Aberystwyth University, and to Dr. John Follet who shared his own passion in this field with me and thus reminded me of my own ambitions.
Figure 01:Body-Image Meaning Transfer (BIMT) Model
Figure 02:McCracken’s Meaning-Transfer Model
Figure 03:Contemporary Male and Female Body-Ideals
Figure 04:Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty
Figure 05:APPG’s Campaign on Body-Confidence
Figure 06:Jocelyn Wildenstein
Figure 07:Anorexic Model
Figure 08:Campaign by Isabelle Caro
Figure 09:Obese Man
Figure 10:Katie Price
Figure 11:‘Fat Bastard’
Figure 12:Body Advert I
Figure 13:Body Advert II
Figure 14:Daniela Katzenberger
Figure 15:Bogdanoff Brothers
Figure 16:Harald Glööckler
“Ideas about what the body is, what it means, its moral value and the values of its constituent parts, the limits of the body, its social utility and symbolic value, in sum, how the body is defined both physically and socially, vary widely from person to person and have changed dramatically over time” (Synnott 1993, p.7).
In the 21st century, the increasing importance of body-image in consumer culture must not be ignored. It has become a perpetual issue affecting an ever-increasing number of people, governmental institutions, industries, and marketers.
Body-image can broadly be defined as the picture an individual forms in his/her mind that constitutes beliefs, feelings, sensations, behaviours, and self-perception concerning the own body (Schilder 1935; Slade et al. 1973: Grosz 1994; Garner et al. 1997). It plays a crucial role as to self-concept since it relates to an individual’s self-esteem and psychosocial adjustment (Cash et al. 1995). Accordingly, Belk (1988) argues that body parts and vital organs can be essential parts of human selves and therefore of human identity. Polhemus (1988, p.6) highlights the meaning of the body describing it as an “essential part of our most fundamental ground of being.”
The way the body appears to oneself merely results from sociocultural interactions, especially discourse, and individual experiences that form an understanding of how the body ought to be in comparison to how the body actually is. The interrelation between individuals’ meanings and social context is summarized by Thompson et al. (1994) saying that personal meanings and intentions are inseparable from a network of socio-historic meanings that basically stem from cultural knowledge and socialization.
Today, body-image is increasingly afflicted with negative features such as social pressure, eating disorders, depression, and more or less desperate steps to body-modification. Pictures of ‘social victims’ whose attempt to look perfect went wrong are well-known. The skeleton-like images of those who starved themselves, and pictures of those who strive to attain ideal beauty, and ended up looking like plastic dolls rather than human beings. Despite the increase in awareness of risks and negative side-effects caused by contemporary body-image in Western countries, the thin-ideal is still pervasive in mainstream advertising, media, and celebrity culture (AMCC). It is adopted as social norm people measure up against, and to which they - often unconsciously - compare their bodies to (Festinger 1954; Bordo 1993; Grogan 2008).
It seems like never before people have been both so aware of body-image, and so helpless to defend themselves against this invisible force. Clearly, body-image comprises a contemporary phenomenon. It is good and bad at the same time, and individual consumers are consistently challenged to deal with both sides by either going with the mainstream, or resisting, which entails the consequence of being different from all others. The profound subject of body-image meaning is at the roots of this investigation.
It argues that body-image is afflicted with meanings constituted within the sociocultural environment. Thereby, thin-idealized bodies are attributed with self-control, success, and discipline, and therefore proclaimed as being desirable and socially valued. Being slim means resisting the temptations that surround consumers in countries of overabundance and wealth (Thompson et al. 1995; Halliwell et al. 2004). Being slim means having one’s life under control and being successful. And to marketers being slim means to trigger an effect of attractiveness onto consumers, which in turn means that they will likely adopt more favourable brand attitudes and generate more profit (Yu et al. 2011).
But are these valid assumptions, or do consumers ultimately long for more down-to-earth, average-sized models with little blemishes rather than digitally enhanced and artificially idealized images of surreal beauty? This question will certainly occupy the minds of researchers and marketers in the realm of body-image in the next decades. On this, the following research seeks to deliver an approach that may help understand the process of how individuals consume culturally constituted meanings of body-image. It identifies factors that can enhance body-dissatisfaction, and gives an idea of how individual consumers react to the exposure of ideal-images. Therefore, it suggests that individuals can consume bodily meaning in a similar way as through goods, based on McCracken’s (1986) meaning-transfer model.
Respectively, the author has created a ‘body-image meaning-transfer’ (BIMT) model based on the fact that body-image is afflicted with changing cultural meaning that every individual adopts as possession and controls as an essential part of the self-concept. Since an increasing number of people in Western cultures tend to pursue culturally approved attributes such as slimness, muscularity, and youth, it is justified that body-image meaning can be transferred from a culturally constituted world to individual consumers. The BIMT model suggests that this takes place in two steps as illustrated in the following figure and explained more detailed in the upcoming literature review:
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Figure 01: Body-Image Meaning-Transfer (BIMT) Model.
Firstly, meaning that originally resides in the culturally constituted world, is transferred by the entity of advertising, media, and celebrity culture (AMCC) with the outcome of a visual manifestation of body-image as it ought to look like. Resulting from that is a thin-idealized beauty ideology to promote products, services, and brands claiming that the desirable and socially appreciated state of “thinness is accessible through diet, exercise, fashionable clothing and accessories, make-up, plastic surgery, and weight management drugs” (Yu et al. 2011, p.58). Although this text explicitly does not blame any of these sources for body distortion or eating-disorders, which are multidimensional and highly complex constructs, one can say that the overall body cult promoted by AMCC is likely part of the negative afflictions of body-image.
The visual manifestation of the mainstream ideal-image is then transferred to the individual’s own body-image through a process of normalization that determines to what extent body-image serves as standard for an individual to measure up against. The outcome is the individual consumer’s body-image that shall be described with studies on preferably negative reactions of people towards ideal-imagery. It must be noted that body-image meaning-transfer can be a lifelong process underlying the perpetual changes in the sociocultural environment, its cultural meanings, body-image trends, and pervasive media beauty ideologies (Yu et al. 2011).
This study proceeds as follows: The literature review provides a brief overview on topic-relevant consumer behaviour theory. Thereby, findings about the self-concept, including Belk’s (1988) concept about the Extended Self, McCracken’s (1986) Meaning-Transfer Model, and the impact of the sociocultural environment on individuals are described. Subsequently, basic assumptions underlying BIMT are introduced under consideration of body/mind dualism as theoretical framework for shaping people’s view on the body as a controllable object, and aspects of Consumer Culture Theory. Then, every individual component shown in the above model is proven with relevant findings of consumer behaviour research.
The third chapter illustrates alternative approaches and initiatives against the current mainstream thin-idealized body-images in the contemporary advertising and media landscape. Proving the timeliness and importance of contemporary issues caused by negative body-images, both bans of delusive imagery and recent launches of campaigns on healthier body-images are introduced.
The fourth chapter presents the research methodology. For this, two online focus groups at the same age and of equal size, from the UK and from Germany, are constituted in order to generate particularly qualitative data proving the validity of BIMT. Both countries are critically affected by negative side-effects of body-image and thus appropriate for this research.
Findings are described and analysed in the fifth chapter. They will reveal the awareness of body-image among young adults in both countries, and the pervasiveness of cultural constitutions of bodily meaning that individuals are – mostly unconsciously - exposed to. Particularly stereotypical gender images will be identified, and give interesting views on consumers’ opinions of body-image in AMCC. Subsequently, conclusion and recommendations will be formulated. The research finishes with a brief chapter about limitations and further research in the covered area.
The research is supported by contributions and epistemological assumptions in the realm of consumer behaviour, psychology, anthropology, and sociology. Philosophical, poststructuralist and postmodernist writings will be considered as well as views of feminist writers, although the author is aware that feminist writers are often seen as contradictory to the contributions by certain philosophers and poststructuralist writers. However they are essential to create a multi-faceted view on body-image. Apart from that, recent studies and campaigns on body-image will complete the picture of what significant role body-image plays in contemporary consumer culture.
Consumption merely serves to create identity in contemporary consumer culture or as Belk (1988) puts it ‘We are what we possess’. Therefore, consumer behaviour theory assumes that needs and motivations which lead to certain consumption activities happen in a purposeful and consistent manner that stem from an individual’s self-concept (Sirgy 1982).
Rosenberg (1979, p.7) defines self-concept as the “totality of the individual’s thoughts and feelings having reference to himself as an object.” In literature, self-concept has been treated in various ways within personality theories including Freud’s (1927) Psychoanalytic Approach, Horney’s (1950) Neo-Freudian Personality Theory or Type Theory, Trait Theory (Evans et al. 2009), and Epstein’s (1980) Cognitive-Experiential Self-Theory.
The self-concept is a multidimensional, highly complex construction. Normally, literature distinguishes between the actual, ideal, and social/public/ought domain of the self. One approach is provided by Higgins (1987, p.320f.):
“(a) the actual self, which is your representation of the attributes that someone (yourself or another) believes you actually possess; (b) the ideal self, which is your representation of the attributes that someone […] would like you, ideally, to possess (i.e. a representation of someone’s hopes, aspirations, or wishes for you); and (c) the ought self, which is your representation of the attributes that someone […] believes you should or ought to possess (i.e. a representation of someone’s sense of your duty, obligations, or responsibilities).”
Facing the multiplicity of the self-concept, Evans et al. (2009) agree that individuals possess ‘multiple selves’, i.e. multiple identities. Divergent perceptions of actual, ought, and ideal self-image can lead to discrepancies and feelings of discomfort, failure, and disappointment (Higgins 1987). Another important finding is provided by Belk (1988) in his concept about the ‘Extended Self’. It emphasizes that any possessions of an individual can become part of the self. Consequently, the individual can extend or enhance his/her self by active consumption of goods with attributes that match the person’s personality.
McCracken’s Meaning-Transfer Model
This is picked up in McCracken’s (1986) meaning-transfer model that constitutes the fundamental base for the suggested BIMT model. By describing culture as the lens through which people see the world and as the blueprint of human activity, McCracken concludes that “culture constitutes the world by supplying it with meaning” (McCracken 1986, p.72). He argues that there are three locations of cultural meaning: the culturally constituted world, the consumer good, and ultimately the consumer. In order to be transferred from one to the other he defines advertising and fashion systems, and possession, exchange, grooming, and divestment rituals as instruments for meaning-transfer, as the following illustration shows:
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Figure 02: McCracken’s Meaning-Transfer Model (McCracken 1986).
In completion to McCracken’s model it is found that consumers tend to consume goods they identify with and that match with the perception of their own personality (Engel et al. 1995).
This ‘self-image congruence’ is typically based on motives such as the need for self-consistency, self-esteem, social consistency and social approval (Sirgy et al. 1997). They are referred to as psychogenic drives that accrue from the sociocultural environment and group interactions, and can thus be both personally and socially created (Evans et al. 2009). Indeed, Engel et al. (1986) suggest that individuals’ internalized values stem from the environmental impacts of society, family, religious institutions, school, and peers. Escalas et al. (2005) argue that the degree of association with a reference group can also affect the strength of the connection an individual perceives between his/her self-concept and a brand. However, it is the consumer’s susceptibility to interpersonal influences, and his/her need for group coherence that finally determines the degree of external influence on his/her decision-making and identity-creation (Evans et al. 2009).
McCracken’s model can be considered an important contribution to consumer behaviour theory. Nonetheless goods are not the only means by which an individual can extend his/her identity and acquire cultural meaning that may be congruent with his/her self-concept. As Firat et al. (1995) rightly argue the consumption of images becomes increasingly important, too. This can include body-image and thus strengthens the justification for BIMT.
Body-image would not have such a profound effect on individuals if they did not expect their bodies to be malleable and controllable in order to adopt culturally and socially accepted features. Likewise Belk (1988) argues that the body is a possession of the self because an individual can exert control on it. As a possession, the body can help create, enhance, and preserve an individual’s self as to a certain meaning. Arciszewski et al. (2012) reveal that:
“Body malleability beliefs could […] be regarded as a specific locus of control, empowering either the person (internal control) or her genetic background (external control). Moreover the beliefs we have about our ability to change our body could either be a consequence of our body-image or a cause of it” (Arciszewski et al. 2012, p.7).
This assumption is manifested in the theoretical framework of body/mind dualism that suggests a clear distinction between an objectified body and a superior mind, and builds a crucial precondition for the consumption of meaning through body-image.
Body/mind dualism is a “practical metaphysic that has been deployed and socially embodied in medicine, law, literacy and artistic representations, the psychological construction of the self, interpersonal relationships, popular culture and advertisements” (Bordo 1993, p.13f.).
Initial thoughts on this concept can be found in Ancient Greece. Platonic Dualism considers the ephemeral human bodies as imperfect copies of the eternal, intelligible Forms. Seeing the body as a ‘tomb’ in which the mind is imprisoned, Plato argues that it hinders the mind from attaining its highest level of knowledge, and prevents it from seeing the truth (Plato 1963). He concludes that body and mind are two separate, even opposed and unequal instances and, the body may lead towards or away from God and can thus be considered responsible for human fate (Plato 1963; Synnott 1993).
Descartes (1641) found a more recent form of body/mind dualism, the Cartesian Dualism. It builds a central philosophical and ideological base on how the body is viewed today. Considering himself a ‘thinking thing’, Descartes (1641, p.28f.) claims that “my soul by which I am what I am […] is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body, and can exist without it.”
As opposed to Plato, Descartes acknowledges an intermingling of mind and body, and concludes that the self is an entirety composed of mind and body (Descartes 1641). Viewing the body as integral part of the self-concept has considerably shaped research in the field of body-image (Blood 2005). Under the assumption of a changeable body that is inferior to the human mind, body-image adopts characteristics of an object that can be provided with attributes of meaning.
Consumer Culture Theory
Furthermore, BIMT supports assumptions of Consumer Culture Theory by seeking to “address the dynamic relationships between consumer actions, the marketplace, and cultural meanings” (Arnould et al. 2005, p.868). It focusses merely on experiential and sociocultural dimensions of body-image consumption that are seen to further an individual’s identity goals. The culturally constituted world can be aligned to Arnould and Thompson’s identification of ‘marketplace cultures’ and the resulting ‘socio-historic patterning of consumption’. The manifestation of body-image by media, advertising, and celebrity culture resembles their ‘mass-mediated ideologies’ and the individual consumer can be equalized with what they refer to as ‘consumer identity’.
McCracken (1986, p.72) suggests that “by investing the world with its own meaning, culture ‘constitutes’ the world.” Poststructuralists such as Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, and Jean-François Lyotard examine the social field as composure of linguistic phenomena (Poster 1989). Likewise, morals, norms, values, and beliefs as well as conceptions of ‘body’, ‘mind’, and ‘self’ are constructed within sociocultural discourse (Thompson et al. 1995). One outcome of those works is that truth is regarded a multiplicity, a transcendent unit, whose meanings can be (re-) interpreted, and interrogated.
Particularly ‘talk’ about body-image affects the way individuals think about their bodies and how they perceive bodies within their sociocultural environment (Blood 2005). Thereby it is significant for Western cultures that language is based on binaries. Regarding the human body, there are many highly-polarized dichotomies such as male/female, old/young, beautiful/ugly, fat/thin, etc. (Synnott 1993). Those dualistic verbal distinctions are often associated with meanings of good and bad in Western culture.
Respectively, physical beauty is commonly linked to ‘good’ meanings such as social acceptance, fame, success, and moral goodness. In contrast fatness is regarded as indicative for ‘bad’ personality traits such as laziness, lacking discipline, unwillingness to conform, and inability to manage the body (Bordo 1993; Featherstone 2010). Also, Polhemus (1988) equalizes young with ‘good’ and old with ‘bad’. These strong social messages might shape the cultural view on ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ body-images fundamentally, and affect individuals’ way of seeing themselves.
Moreover, dualistic distinctions enable regulation, organization, and social structure, or what Thompson and Hirschman (1995) refer to as ‘conditions of intelligibility’. This can be aligned with McCracken’s (1986) identification of cultural categories that he characterizes as the invisible ‘conceptual grid’ and ‘scaffolding’ of a culturally constructed world, and with Arnould and Thompson’s (2005) ‘socio-historic patterning of consumption’.
Horrocks (1995) claims that narratives or myths, here defined as collective fantasies, help structuring both the cultural and the individual’s existence. They embody - owing to the lack in truth and multiplicities in meaning - unconsciously constructed imaginative realities in human discourse. On this Firat and Venkatesh (1995, p.251) claim that “the construction of reality […] suggests that reality is not always treated as a given but is subject to manipulation for aesthetic or commercial purposes.”
Narratives are especially common with regard to food-consumption, dieting, cosmetics, and health. Typically they include moral indications on self-control and discipline promising individuals that their efforts will be rewarded through better health, freedom, attractiveness, or pure enjoyment of life (Thompson et al. 1995). Mythical narratives can also entail the meaning of icons that is legendary, heroic figures, which serve as religious symbols and role models in culture (Horrocks 1995). Indeed, contemporary beauty-myths include icons telling people how they ought to look and be like (Wolf 1990; Bordo 1993; Kilbourne 1999).
The correlation between imaginary myths and social structure has been discussed in terms of gender roles, especially during feminist movements claiming that images of ideal female beauty were objectified and sexualized (Probyn 1993; Horrocks et al. 1996), and used as ‘political weapons’ or ‘currency systems’ to maintain social and institutional power structures dominated by men (Wolf 1990). Synnott (1993) argues that the body can be both subject and object, since it is symbol of the self on the one hand and symbol of society on the other hand. Further, it is something an individual possesses and that defines him/her.
Therefore, he concludes that the body is both individually unique and private, but also culturally produced in its systems and thus public. This proves the strong dynamic between individuals and the culture they are living in, and suggests that bodies are inevitably anchored in both which explains the vulnerability and complexity of body-image.
McCracken (1986) states that advertising and product design of fashion systems move meaning from the world to goods. Owing to a study of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) the entity of advertising, media, and celebrity culture (AMCC) account for almost 75% of impact on body-image in society, and are therefore considered instruments of body-image meaning transfer in this model (YMCA 2012).
In accordance, Yu et al. (2011, p.60) state that “social and cultural values, myths, symbols, and images, as well as appearance information, are distributed through media such as television, fashion magazines, and the Internet.” It is through these instruments, that mere imaginations of body-image adopt a visually tangible, more realistic form. This is a sensitive component concerning marketers since body-images projected by AMCC not only affect the individual consumer’s view on him/herself, but also his/her identification with and loyalty to a brand (Meenaghan 1995; Firat et al. 1995).
Contemporary mainstream AMCC is literally obsessed with illustrations of beautiful bodies, models, and celebrities bringing across socially approved meanings of moral goodness, success, fame, respect, and reputation (Featherstone 2010). Although body-image messages through AMCC are widely criticized for being delusive, surreal, and contradictory, e.g. magazines claiming slimness alongside the mass consumption of fast food, or ‘curves’ alongside diet trends (Wolf 1990; Kilbourne 1999), a way of life grounded in ‘the look’ is perpetually communicated in numerous ways including commodities and services (Goldman 1992).
Indeed, the rising means of body-modification promise ‘Cinderella-like life-changing experiences’ while spreading a ‘look good: feel good mentality’ (Featherstone 2010). This ideology is repetitively picked up and communicated by mass media showing before-and-after effects of both celebrities and ordinary people suggesting that everybody can own it.
Diet products, cosmetic surgery, and related techniques appear as problem-solvers, and promise liberating, healing, comforting, and easing effects. It becomes clear that individuals can hardly escape from the pervasiveness of the ways body-image is communicated as duty, lifestyle, and precondition for social acceptance in contemporary consumer culture.
The outcome of meaning-transfer by mainstream AMCC is the portrayal of a body-image that is considered ideal in Western culture. Polhemus (1988) claims that there are tendencies towards neutralization of bodily differences towards a uniform ideal appearance and that there is a remarkable homogeneity of opinion about what constitutes the ideal body in Western cultures. The British All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has tried to summarize and portray a number of common and current ‘ideal’ bodily attributes in the following illustration:
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Figure 03: Contemporary Male and Female Body-Ideals (APPG 2012).
This mainstream ‘ideal-image’ shows thin, tight, toned, and almost hairless bodies. Indeed, especially thinness is characteristic in contemporary beauty-ideologies (Yu et al. 2011). Youthfulness implies that the naturally visible process of aging including wrinkles, greying, and saggy skin is to be avoided. Furthermore, the face ought to be symmetrical, unmarked and uncluttered, almost expressionless, and preferably showing Caucasian features (Featherstone 2010; APPG 2012).
What cultural meaning is linked to these ideals though? In general, it is assumed that the visible body will reflect inner characteristics through a beautiful appearance (Featherstone 2010). Thereby youthfulness may promote or even replace the desire for eternal life and counter the fear of perishing (Öberg et al. 2001). Slimness is identified as indicator for discipline, willpower, energy, and self-control in an environment of overabundance and mass consumption (Thompson et al. 1995; Halliwell et al. 2004; Arciszewski et al. 2012). A fit and disciplined person is seen as someone who cares about him/herself and his/her appearance. Muscles – typically aligned with ideal men - embody stereotypical cultural meanings of masculine power, sexuality, and physical strength (Bordo 1993).
These descriptions align with the majority of visualizations observed in Western AMCC in the last decades, but they are also heavily criticized. Wielding (2012) criticizes that discipline has become a ‘hobbyhorse’ in modern society that is seen to be advancing success and money. Bordo (1993) claims that these ‘cultural ideals’ are far from any sense of average human bodies and that they problematize human deviations from these ideals. Resulting negative side-effects will be described more detailed in the subsequent chapters. In contrast, recently evolving alternative campaigns against the pervasive mainstream-ideology of thin-idealized body-images will be provided in chapter 3.
The consumption process linking body-image and consumer can take place on a largely unconscious level. This may involve the perceived pressure to normalize and discipline the body as to socially accepted standards (Thompson et al. 1995). The modes of setting up standards of ideal beauty against which cultural inhabitants measure, judge, and adapt their behaviour and appearance are referred to as ‘ normalization ’ (Bordo 1993). Normalization can be identified as instrument of meaning transfer since it moves the cultural meaning of body-image into the individual consumer’s mind in a fairly affective way. It finally determines to what extent the individual internalizes visualizations by AMCC as his/her personal body-image standard depending on an individual’s susceptibility and interpersonal influences that vary from person to person.
By trying to pursue the standardized ideal image, consumers may reach out to goods (as aforementioned) that enhance the cultural constitution of a ‘good’ body. This will likely take place within the consumption rituals proposed by McCracken (1986). For that reason the process of normalization is decisive to the extent in which body-image affects the actual consumption behaviour of individuals. It is found that more than one third of women aim to look like female models shown in adverts. A similar number of men want to look like the male models shown in magazines despite the awareness of digital alterations creating surreal media imagery (APPG 2012).
The process of normalization can serve as some kind of ‘emotional filter’ triggered by feelings of anxiety, guilt, public observation, and failure that can influence the degree of control an individual is willing to exert on his/her body.
The Feeling of Anxiety And Guilt
An increased willingness to control the body is powerfully driven by anxiety. It is the anxiety not to conform to a group, to be an outcast of femininity/masculinity and appeal, to be socially unaccepted, and to be judged while being linked to a culturally constituted ‘bad’ meaning. Ultimately, it is the anxiety to fail the norms and therefore to be considered being somewhat ‘abnormal’ (Kilbourne 1999; Blood 2005; Featherstone 2010). Feelings of guilt for the transgression of cultural norms such as eating ‘incorrectly’, being obese, or not exercising are widely manifested and part of what is perceived as normal in contemporary consumer culture (Thompson et al. 1995). Likewise, body-image issues such as disappointment about body shape or appearance, and distorted self-perception are described as ‘normal’ daily concerns (Duenwald 2003; Blood 2005).
Additionally, it is a shared belief in Western culture that bodies can be shaped at will and that imperfect bodies reflect imperfect people; these are the two most common beliefs causing body dissatisfaction (Duenwald 2003). Blood (2005) claims that it has thus become almost impossible to view and accept the body as it really is. As a consequence, “dissatisfaction with physical appearance appears to be more the rule than the exception” (Sarwer et al. 2005, p.69), and the general cultural preoccupation with fat, diet, and slenderness can be summarized as one of the most powerful normalizing mechanisms in contemporary consumer culture (Bordo 1993). Resulting from that are strong power-relations between society and individuals that can create knowledge and drive individuals’ behaviour. This area is further investigated by poststructuralist writers such as Foucault (1977) and Baudrillard (Horrocks et al. 1996).
The Feeling of Public Observation
Anxiety is additionally triggered by the feeling of being constantly monitored and judged by public. Shields et al. (2002) state that gazing upon the body as object of beauty seems natural, whereas the subsequent assessment clearly relies on cultural factors. Foucault (1977) investigated this problematic when analysing the behaviour of prisoners. Owing to his study, the phenomenon of constantly feeling looked at is referred to as ‘ panopticism ’, or ‘the power of the disciplinary gaze’ (Thompson et al. 1995).
In his research, Foucault observed conscious feelings of constant surveillance amongst imprisoned inmates and concluded that this was as powerful as the use of arms, physical violence, or material constraints. Bartky (1990) complements this finding by describing strong tendencies to self-surveillance owing to the conscious awareness of the public gaze. She identifies typical indicators as regular looks into the mirror or resilient concerns about appearances e.g. about looking ‘bad’ in the sense of looking fat or ugly. This implies that normalization does not only concern desirable features of a culturally positive body-image but also, and most notably, features of a negative body-image that ought to be avoided.
The Feeling of Failure
The ideology of pursuing an ideal-image comprises a paradox which is worth emphasizing here: Artificially created body-images are usually physically unattainable for the majority of people. It is noted that the aesthetic ideal of women in the media has become constantly thinner whereas average women’s weight has increased (Duenwald 2003; Fallon et al. 2004; Connolly 2009; APPG 2012). Similarly, the extremely muscular and toned visualization of male ideals does not comply with the natural constitutions of the majority of men (Daily Mail Reporter 2012). In fact, 95% of the population will physically never achieve the ‘body ideal’ (Smithers 2012).
Consequently, when trying to attain or enhance the ideal cultural meanings, most people are automatically condemned to fail, and as a consequence the discrepancy between actual and ideal self-image causes body-dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, and body-related anxiety that can have profound consequences on individual consumers’ body-image (Polhemus 1988; Dove 2004; Halliwell et al. 2004). A recent study by the Department of Public Health and General Practice in Norway even suggests that the normalization of an unrealistically thin body-image in adolescence that makes young people feel bigger than they actually are can entail obesity in adulthood (Cuypers et al. 2012). The negative outcome of normalization is referred to as ‘problematization’ by Thompson et al. (1995).
The adoption of shared cultural meaning to the context of an individual consumer’s life depends on the individual’s degree of compliance to his/her sociocultural environment and tendency to social comparison with the thin-idealized models in AMCC (Thompson et al. 1994; Yu et al. 2011).
Researchers face two challenges here: Firstly, the process of normalization can greatly differ among individuals. Secondly, body-image is invisibly manifested in individual consumers’ minds and thus difficult to be measured. To facilitate this process, the author argues with scholars such as Jones (2004) and Engeln-Maddox (2005) that consumers who are satisfied with their bodies will not internalize culturally constituted body-images as their individual standards. Behavioural adaption is unlikely here. Consequently, research must focus on those consumers who are not necessarily satisfied with their bodies. Owing to the aforementioned statement by Sarwer et al. (2005) that dissatisfaction was more the rule than the exception, one can justify, however, that most ordinary people likely constitute suitable research objects in this realm.
As McCracken (1986) acknowledges, meaning transfer with goods can go wrong to the cost of individual and society. Likewise, the adoption of a culturally constituted thin-idealized body-image can cause a state of tension among individual consumers resulting from a discrepancy between the actual self, and the culturally constituted ideal self that stems from social comparison. Thereby, consumers with a greater discrepancy are more likely to develop negative body-images and body-dissatisfaction that can, in extreme cases, result in disorders or dysfunctions (Cash et al. 2002; Blood 2005; Yu et al. 2011). Consequently, the more consumers internalize realistically unattainable body-images as their personal standard, the more likely they are to feel dissatisfied about their own bodies and reach for products or services to modify their looks.
Research in consumer behaviour, anthropology, sociology, and psychology has dealt with individual consumers’ reactions and behaviour when being exposed to thin-idealized body-images presented by AMCC. Some of those will be described below in order to illuminate the possible negative side-effects of these images on the body- images of the audience.
Behavioural Responses to the Exposure of Body-Ideals Among Women
It is agreed that women are especially vulnerable and cutting-edges to react on culturally constructed thin-idealized body-images, and there are notably more studies on women than on men. Indeed few women are positively influenced by thin-ideal images whereas a third of women have been found to be dissatisfied with their body weight, and feel a strong pressure to try and achieve the ‘ideal’ picture of beauty assuming that society expects them to enhance their physical attractiveness for being socially more valued (McKie et al. 1993; Mussweiler et al. 2000; Dove 2004). This may stem from past decades when women used to be publicly defined by means of their bodies in order to achieve social status (Orbach 1988; Wolf 1990; Bordo 1993; Kilbourne 1999).
One significant contribution is provided by Halliwell and Dittmar (2004, p. 114) revealing that “body-focused anxiety was strongly correlated with internalization of sociocultural attitudes […] particularly in the exposure conditions that showed an attractive model.” Images of attractive, thin-idealized models activated bad feelings especially among women with greater self-discrepancy. Likewise, Fallon et al. (2005) found that the exposure to models with an ideal physique can cause body-image disturbance, enhanced body-dissatisfaction, anger, depression, and anxiety. Thereby, an individual’s body-image state can already be negatively affected by a five minutes exposure to thin-and-beautiful media imagery (Yamamiya et al. 2005). Intterestingly, the greater the awareness of discrepancy, the more likely it is that women react selectively and critically towards those images, and finally towards the brand promoting them (Festinger 1954; Grogan 2008; Yu et al. 2011).
Behavioural Responses to the Exposure of Body-Ideals Among Men
Increasing vulnerabilities towards body-image and tendencies to body-control have recently been found among men (Flament et al. 2011; Daily Mail Reporter 2012). Male consumers have become inevitable components of accurate and current body-image research. However the internalization of ideal body-images amongst men has not been subject to many research studies yet, so that there are few findings.
Nonetheless it is found that, similar to women, male stereotypes normally do not fit the vast majority of men and therefore evoke feelings of discomfort and failure (Daily Mail Reporter 2012). Flament et al. (2011) propose that muscularity and thinness are often wished to be pursued simultaneously among boys. This is supported by the results of another recent study revealing that 10% of boys aged 11-16 are willing to abuse anabolic steroids to look more muscular (Watts 2012a).
Also, a remarkable impact on men’s body-image was found by images in male magazines. Particularly single men are found to react vulnerable to pictures of flawless muscular bodies. By striving to attain that, numerous young men tend to exercise and work-out excessively, which is referred to as ‘athletica nervosa’ (Giles cited in Mail Online 2008, Featherstone 2010). Although the known cases of eating disorders amongst men is said to be on increase (Flament et al. 2011), Watts (2012b) claims that statistics are not accurate since numerous cases are misguided. Another interesting research on the willingness toward aesthetic surgery among men is provided by Holliday and Cairnie (2007).
Clearly, male body-images as shown in AMCC exert much pressure on stereotypical gender-roles and behavioural attributes. This affects especially in men who cannot respond adequately to gender-specific social norms such as power, strength, and masculinity owing to their natural physical state, and can lead to similar consequences as with women.
These findings show that the proliferation of thin-idealized body-images by the majority of contemporary AMCC will likely transfer negative body-images to both women and men that can ultimately trigger a number of dangerous side-effects. In contrast, alternative approaches will be illuminated in the following chapter.
Cuypers et al. (2012) argue that environmental impacts that cause negative body-images may be reversed by publicly focusing on healthy body shapes and the dissemination of health messages. Definitions of what a healthy body-image is can be broadly summarized as invariably loving the actual self the way it is (Pawlik-Kienlen 2007). Since body-image is one important component of self-esteem and self-concept all constructs can likewise be affected positively through a satisfied and optimistic body-perception (APPG 2012).
Therefore, Organizations, celebrities, governments, and individuals campaign against the pressure perceived from ideal body-images by fostering a healthier body-image. Amongst these initiatives, two trends can be observed: First of all, bans against surreal, delusive body-images, and secondly the proliferation of advertising campaigns on healthy body-images. Both approaches against mainstream thin-idealized and muscular body-images will be described and exemplified in the following paragraphs.
Initially, controversies about body shape kicked-off in fashion and modelling industry after the death of some models owing to anorectic self-starvation. As a consequence, the Madrid Fashion Week banned size-zero models from their catwalks in 2006, and imposed a minimum BMI of 18 in order to promote healthier images (Rogers 2006). Subsequently, Brazil and Argentina joined in, and also the Italian fashion couture reacted with a code of conduct to stop the use of anorexic-looking models on catwalks (Rogers 2006; Derbyshire 2007). After being reluctant towards catwalk bans, the British Fashion Council passed a Model Health Inquiry in 2007 that determines that catwalks are not permitted for models under 16, that healthy food and drinks as well as a model relaxation zone are available, and that Equity becomes a representative body for models (Milligan 2012).
However the topic has led to numerous controversies in fashion world, politics, media, and public. Especially fashion designers’ unrealistic sample sizes have been concerns of the discussions. On that an anonymous designer holds: “I have to make my samples in a size eight. If I make them any bigger […] no one will use the samples in the fashion magazine shoots afterwards because magazines nearly always use size eight-or-under models” (Kay 2006).
Against those arguments ‘Brigitte’ one of Germany’s best-selling women’s magazines announced to ban professional models from its pages and to replace them with pictures of ‘real life’ ordinary women in 2009. They stated to be reacting on an increased number of readers who had complained they could not identify with the models shown who weigh around 23% less than an average woman (Connolly 2009). In 2012, the fashion magazine ‘Vogue’ responded with a health initiative between its 19 international editors. The magazine announced to work with models representing a healthy body-image in order to promote the importance of well-being to their readers (Milligan 2012).
Israel is the first country that passed a country-wide law banning underweight models from local advertising obliging them to provide proof that a minimum BMI of 18.5 are met and a medical certificate about their health state when applying for model jobs. Moreover, publications are required to disclose when they use altered images to make female and male models appear thinner (BBC 2012). In response, a member of the Fashion Industry Action Group prompted to follow this example in the UK one month before the start of the London Fashion Week, claiming that size zero models in catwalk shows were partly to blame for women developing eating disorders (Waterlow 2012).
Indeed, requests for campaigns against digitally altered advertising images (so-called ‘anti-Photoshop laws’) have also been raised in other countries such as the US, and Austria (Abraham 2011; Riegler 2012). In the UK, Highly airbrushed ‘delusive’ advertisements, such as by famous cosmetic brands showing actress Julia Roberts and model Christy Turlington have already been banned for misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority (BBC 2011; Waterlow 2012).
Yu et al. (2011) state that brand attitudes are more positive when participants experience a similarity with advertising images as opposed to the tense state resulting from self-discrepancy caused by unattainable images. Also, the advertising effectiveness of attractive average-sized models is perceived equal to their slim counterparts which thus rejects the wide-spread argument that ‘thinness sells’ (Halliwell et al. 2004; Yamamiya et al. 2004; Fallon et al. 2005). Indeed, some organizations have recently tried to benefit from this by swimming against the current mainstream of thin-idealized body-images.
The organization Unilever with their wide-spread ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ under the umbrella of their cosmetic brand Dove is a cutting-edge in this. In September 2004, Dove first published a global report under the heading ‘The Real Truth about Beauty’. Prior to that, an internal research study revealed that 40% of the 3,200 female respondents from 10 different countries did not feel comfortable describing themselves as beautiful. Moreover, 75% declared they wished media images varied more in shape, age, and size. Subsequently, the brand started a global advertising campaign against the perceived media pressure on body image. Thereby, they picked up stereotypical indicators that do not comply with the contemporary beauty-ideology: aging, greying, wrinkles, curves, small breasts, boyish looks, and different skin colours as the following example shows:
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Figure 04: Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty (Clegg 2005).
A similar self-esteem campaign had formerly been launched by The Body Shop against a stereotyped Barbie doll-like body-image on women in 1998. Also, several celebrities campaign for curvier body-images, including Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Hudson, Mariah Carey, Tyra Banks, America Ferrara, and Janet Jackson (The Richest 2012).
Apart from Israel, an increased number of governments are involved in the body-image discussion. With regard to the subsequent research study, two initiatives from the UK and Germany can be mentioned: In the UK, the Central YMCA’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG 2012) recently conducted 28 empirical studies investigating 4000 women and men from the UK, North America, and Australia. Apart from proving that negative body-image is the biggest single worry for millions of children and young people in society, they also revealed that body-satisfaction increased after the exposure to average-size male and female models as opposed to slim and muscular ones (YMCA 2012). Therefore, a campaign is to be launched in autumn 2012 proactively spreading adverts showing a diverse range of multicultural people holding heart-shaped signs in front of their naked bodies saying ‘I © me’ in order to reinforce body-confidence among groups of all ages, nationalities, and sizes in the UK.
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Figure 05: APPG’s Campaign on Body-Confidence (YMCA 2012).
In Germany, politicians and celebrities – including fashion designer Jette Joop – have launched a nation-wide campaign that can be translated as ‘Life needs more weight – altogether against the obsession with body-image’ (Riegger 2007). This campaign focuses on the prevention of negative body-images through education and financial support of national health- and sports initiatives. Although most campaigns do not appear strikingly in Germany, body-image is a prevailing topic. This proved recently when a blogger on twitter accidentally raised a big discussion about culturally constituted ‘ideal’ body-proportions (Tanriverdi 2012). However this is only one example for a large number of initiatives by individuals for healthier and more realistic body-images that prove the topicality of body-image all over the world.
Despite the attempts to portray healthier, natural, and more realistically attainable body-images that dissociate from the message of ‘imperfect bodies = imperfect people’, it must be clarified that the aforementioned campaigns still constitute the minority of initiatives within the vast and global media landscape, and their effectiveness is not analysed sufficiently yet. Therefore, it cannot be said with certainty whether or not a shift in the way people think about body-image can be achieved. However owing to previous findings suggesting that people feel more comfortable and satisfied when being exposed to average-sized models, one can reason that these approaches can trigger a trend towards more positive body-images as opposed to their thin-idealized counterparts. But can the meanings linked to healthy body-images prevail over meanings that have been associated with slim-idealized bodies over decades?
Opinions about this are controversial. On the one hand it is believed that the recent campaigns and initiatives have already encouraged people to feel less dissatisfied with their bodies. On the other hand images of thin-idealized beauty-ideals have been culturally constructed and manifested in people’s psyche over generations. Therefore a shift towards a healthier body-ideal will definitely need time. Although the likelihood for a zeitgeist change is generally acknowledged, it is not expected to happen immediately (Duenwald 2003). Certainly, approaches towards a positive body-image are yet regarded brave, but they may offer great opportunities for both marketers and people. At the end, consumers will decide whether a new look at body-image will become accepted. The following research study will therefore not only examine BIMT based on mainstream AMCC but also offer alternative approaches.
In the previous chapters the BIMT model was introduced as well as initiatives for healthier and more realistic and diversified body-images in contemporary AMCC. Both components are picked up and examined by the author in the following primary research study.
Methods of Data Collection
The identification of sources of data and the collection of data of sufficient quality and quantity aim to prove the validity of the BIMT model. The author focused especially on the collection of qualitative data rather than quantitative figures in order to provide a multifaceted and profound view on opinions, feelings, and perceptions of consumers on the highly philosophical, subjective, and controversial topic given.
Two independent online focus groups, from the UK (group A) and Germany (group B) consisting of ten participants each were built in order to discuss body-image-related questions over a two-weeks-period. The research method chosen enables to gather a large amount of information in real-time to low cost and is therefore especially advantageous. It was assumed that group interaction may stimulate new thoughts from respondents and make participants feel secure to speak out (Aaker et al. 2004).
Indeed, it is found that participants react very open in online discussion groups because the interviewer is not staring at their face or pushing for an immediate answer in front of the group, and peer pressure is not perceived (McDaniel et al. 2006). Moreover, when respondents rely on words and complete sentences rather than gestures or facial expressions, they have to express their thoughts in more concise ways. Finally, the group moderator can directly interact and ask questions without interrupting possible group dynamics which was applied in this research, too (ibid.). This was important with regard to the vulnerability and sensitivity of the subject of discussion.
Prior to the discussion the author described the purpose of the inquiry as an exploration of the body-image. Participants were asked to sign up under an anonymous Facebook profile. Using the social network offered the possibility to invite people from a wide geographic distance into a closed group in order to discuss anonymously, and independently from time and space. By using the internet, stimulating interactivities such as uploading pictures and videos, and the Facebook typical click-liking were facilitated in order to create a lively discussion on multiple communication levels. All respondents were active Facebook users so that they were familiar with technological treatments. Being anonymous improved the general sense of well-being during the whole discussion. Moreover, each group was given the same surname in order to create a feeling of belongingness, familiarity, and group coherence.
During the two weeks of research, both groups were exposed to nine relatively broadly formulated open questions, with sub questions where applicable (App. A). This enabled respondents to answer in their own terms and enabled the researcher to examine the salience of the body-image issue among the target group with regard to BIMT.
In completion, quantitative data were collected by means of a one-page individual questionnaire at the end of the research (App. B). The questionnaire investigated personal factual questions in order to generate quantitative data about gender, age, BMI, and relationship status (Bryman et al. 2007). Also, respondents were asked about their attitudes towards their own and other people’s appearance, and the impact of adverts on their own body-image on a six-point Likert scale. Closed questions were used to examine opinions about alternative body-image campaigns.
 In the UK, cosmetic surgery rates have risen by almost 20% in the last four years, and girls aged five worry about their weight and appearance (Smithers 2012). Research in 2007 revealed that one third of teenage girls admitted to be on a diet or tried to lose weight, whereas 14% of boys admitted to dieting as well, a quarter of them consuming less than 800 calories a day (Smithers 2007).
In Germany, a survey on health conditions of children and youth found that 56% of 13- to 14-year-olds wished themselves thinner, and 63% wished to look better. Also, every fifth child at the age of 11 to 17 was found to suffer from the symptoms of an eating disorder (Riegger 2007).
 The resulting conflict, which is referred to as ‘body-negative dualism’, is considered a permanent and total process (Synnott 1993). Accordingly, the mind must be liberated and separated from the body by attaining ‘purification’. This is referred to as ‘ body-positive dualism ’.
 Plato’s view got criticized because he did not clarify how the union between body and mind came about when solely considering them as two distinct things. Nevertheless his ideas inspired later philosophies such as the Stoics and Christian asceticism as well as thinkers such as Descartes (Synnott 1993).
 This clear distinction underlies the idea of the mind being an entirely indivisible thing, a source of meaning and knowledge of the truth and about the body. In contrast the body is considered a ‘machine’ that is by nature divisible and an object to the mind’s knowledge (Descartes 1641; Blood 2005).
 This is referred to as Hedonic Consumption by Hirschman and Holbrook (1982), and is strongly in line with the postmodern belief that everybody can adopt any identity s/he wishes (Firat et al. 1995).
 Öberg et al. (2001) state, that youthfulness has become a central value in modern societies. They claim that it can be seen as “denial of aging and resistance to inclusion in a stigmatized old age” (Öberg et al. 2001, p.16).
 The ideology ‘sex sells’ is commonly picked up by AMCC, and can additionally affect an individual’s view on his own sexuality (i.e. “how do I look naked?”) by social comparison. Bodily features such as hair underline ever-changing contemporary fashion trends, and can enhance this process (Synnott 1993; Crooks et al. 2010).
 The alternative approaches being described in chapter 3 do clearly separate from mainstream AMCC and are therefore introduced in a single chapter. Owing to the actuality of these campaigns the resulting meaning-transfer is yet to be empirically proven. However reactions of individuals on such campaigns will be examined in the subsequent research study in chapter 4ff.
 Cuypers et al. (2012) state that the self-perceived overweight can lead to mental health issues and unhealthy dietary behavior in adulthood that finally goes along with weight gain instead of weight loss and can reinforce body-dissatisfaction even more.
 The Theory of Social Comparison was first proposed by Festinger (1954) who argued that people evaluate themselves by comparing with others. The more similar they perceive others the more likely they are to compare with them as opposed to those who seem completely different, even oppositional. Social comparison can positively enhance self-esteem when comparing with an inferior image or lead to dysfunctions and dissatisfaction when comparing with an unattainable, unrealistic image. (Yu et al. 2011).
 This dissatisfaction may stem from the aforementioned emotions such as anxiety, failure, etc. The degree of internalization and awareness of body-images as promoted by AMCC is mostly measured with the ‘Sociocultural Attitudes to Appearance Questionnaire’ by Heinberg et al. (1995).
 Dove (2004) did a global survey on 3,200 women from Northern and Southern America, Asia, Europe in collaboration with professionals in the research of body-image. For more information see chapter 3.
 Bodies empowered women to represent cultural meanings such as self-discipline, trimness, and control (Bordo 1993). For more information see early feminist writings who conceptualize the body from its physical form to a construction of history and medium of social control (Wolf 1990; Kilbourne 1999; Blood 2005).
 Halliwell et al. (2004) investigated the relation between media images and body-focused anxiety among women who were exposed to images showing no models, traditional thin models, and average-size models. Amongst the sample of 202 women,96% of the respondents were Caucasian and 88% resided in the UK, the average age was 30.8 years, median age was 28 years with an age range between 19-67, and 80% being younger than 35. Average BMI was 23.31.
 Fallon et al. (2004) analysed the mood reactions of 63 Caucasian female undergraduate students when being exposed to 60 pictures of ‘ideal’ Caucasian models in relation to exercising.
 Yamamiya et al. (2004) did research on 123 white female students at the age of 18 to 29 at Old Dominion University. Average BMI of participants was 24.1. The study is therefore comparable to Halliwell et al.’s (2004).
 Originally, the term ‘athletica nervosa’ stems from a research by Winchester University psychologist Dr David Giles.
 Thereby it is found that non-masculine features, e.g. body-hair in contemporary consumer culture, are commonly joked about. This view is often enhanced by movies that trivialize men with female attributes (Crooks et al. 2010).
 The author is aware that Israel does not belong to Western culture. However its actions against thin-idealized body-images serve as an important example in this research, and illustrate that body-image is a current and controversial issue beyond the borders of typical Western countries.
 However it must be acknowledged that these findings cannot be proven with absolute profit figures yet, and thus need to be handled with care.
 The study was carried out in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, the UK and the US (Datamonitor 2005).
 The campaign showed a curvy Barbie doll under the strapline “There are 3 billion women who don’t look like supermodels and only 8 who do”. The Anti-Barbie doll was called Ruby as to symbolize a rubenesque, generously proportioned body-shape. Ruby appeared in shops in Asia, Australia and the US. However the campaign got banned as an insult against the real Barbie doll very quickly (Roddick 2001).
 Information to the campaign and a full copy of the report can already be found on the Central YMCA’s website.
 In Germany, the ideal proportions for women are known as 90-60-90. This ‘aesthetic norm’ concerns the sizes of breast, waist, and hips of women measured in cm, and are commonly applied to be ideal body-proportions. Owing to a spelling mistake, the blogger incorrectly referred to 60-90-60 though. Immediately, hundreds of bloggers raised a critical discussion about body-norms in society, and strengthened their opinions with pictures of their own bodies. This got positive feedback by many other bloggers since it revealed that nobody seems to look that way (Tanriverdi 2012).
 In group A the surname was Churchill whereas group B was called Müller according to their nationality.