How do adolescent girls evaluate body dissatisfaction prevention messages? Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE: This research examined responses of adolescent girls to messages typically used in eating disorder and body image prevention programs and 2 new messages promoting a positive body image and persuading against body comparison with the media and peers. METHODS: Girls in the 7th, 8th, and 10th grades completed a questionnaire assessing comparison tendency, internalization of the thin body ideal, body image concerns, psychological functioning, and risk factors for eating disorders. Two weeks later, participants viewed on videotape 9 persuasive messages and 1 nonpersuasive control message and rated them on relevance, believability, emotional response to body, intention to compare, and intention to diet. RESULTS: Two message themes frequently used in prevention programs (1. media images are not real, and 2. the ideal body changes through history and between cultures) and 1 new message (don't fall into the comparison trap) were rated most strongly. Relevance ratings consistently were associated positively with body comparison, internalization of the thin ideal, body dissatisfaction, and dieting measures. CONCLUSIONS: Body dissatisfaction prevention messages vary in their persuasiveness and this research identifies messages that potentially are of particular value for inclusion in intervention programs.

publication date

  • November 2005