Factors Mediating Female Viewers’ Processing of Realistic or Unrealistic Female Beauty Appeals in Movies and Affecting their Body Esteem: A Mixed Method Study
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This study examined female movie female viewers’ attention to onscreen relational information and their response to feminine beauty appeals that may explain why they experienced different body esteem outcomes. Body esteem researchers do not yet know what factors mediate female viewers’ internalization of a thin ideal of feminine beauty broadcast in complex television or movie programs affecting women’s body esteem. Few body esteem researchers have examined women’s response to the onscreen interplay of actors and the relational cues that may influence these movie-watchers’ processing of a thin ideal of feminine beauty. Yet, women’s focus on relational connotations is a central aspect of the social-comparative thought process engaging them in self-evaluative thoughts about their appearance. Such thoughts usually trigger a corresponding sense of self-worth and perceived social acceptance. This study relied on mixed methods to contrast viewers’ responses to the relational interplay denoted onscreen and viewers’ perceived relations with influential relatives, peers, school mates, and the mass media. College women participating in this study drew on internalized relational and beauty-related meaning to make sense of movie melodrama questioning a thin beauty appeal. Perceived expectations from others about a viewer’s beauty appearance, her health, and academic life were severe stressors in study participants’ life influencing body esteem outcomes. This study provided evidence of viewers’ schematic of relational information, its mediating role in increasing or decreasing body esteem, and of viewers’ self-efficacy dealing with social pressure to conform to culturally valued looks.