Testing Western Media Icons Influence on Arab Women’s Body Size and Shape Ideals: An Experimental Approach
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Western media globalization is implicated in the spread of the thin body ideal to traditional societies. Qatar—a small conservative Middle-Eastern country—has recently witnessed rapid Westernization, but the influence of Western media icons on women’s body image dissatisfaction has rarely been studied here. A 2 (celebrity or model) × 3 (thin, average, or heavy) plus a control condition between-subject experiment tested the primary hypothesis that exposure to images of thin Western models or celebrities promotes a thinner body ideal compared to neutral images. A sample of young women (n = 1145) was randomly assigned to experimental images as part of an online survey. After exposure to images, participants rated their current and desired body size and shape, reported celebrity liking, and evaluated their favorite celebrity’s body. We found little support for the desire of thinness. Viewing thin- and average-sized celebrities was significantly associated with desiring a heavier and a thinner look (respectively) among those favoring thin celebrities. Images of thin models induced the desire for a curvaceous body figure with hips especially among those favoring celebrities with hips. The findings highlight important nuances in the influence of Western media icons on body image among women in a non-Western culture.
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