This study explores the relationship between media images’ portrayal of the “thin ideal” and college women’s self-image and self-esteem. A review of the literature validated the researcher’s hypothesis that women are negatively affected by the media’s portrayal of “ideal” body types. However, the review of literature also presented a contrasting theme that media images can positively affect women through motivation and determination to maintain healthy lifestyles. A mixed methods study using Rosenberg’s Self Esteem Scale and media images portraying different body types was used to examine this relationship. Findings indicated that the level of the women’s self-esteem prior to completing the survey will have an impact on the level of women’s self-esteem after observing the images. In addition, findings gathered that women who have body types that are not considered “ideal” by society do not believe that their own body types are ideal; rather, body types that are more desired than their own are the “ideal” body types for which women should strive to resemble. An implication for future research and practice is concerned with the sensitivity of the relationship between media images’ portrayal of a “thin ideal” and college women’s self-esteem.
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