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Eat Behav. 2007 Aug;8(3):390-7. Epub 2006 Dec 12.

Effects of a reality TV cosmetic surgery makeover program on eating disordered attitudes and behaviors.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.



To evaluate the effects of a reality TV cosmetic surgery program on eating disordered attitudes, behaviors, mood, anxiety, and self-esteem.


Participants (N=147 women) completed baseline surveys and were subsequently randomly assigned to one of two conditions: one in which they watched a reality TV cosmetic surgery program (The Swan) and one in which they watched a reality TV home improvement program (Clean Sweep). Assessments were conducted immediately post-video and two weeks later.


Women in the cosmetic surgery program group who reported higher internalization of the thin-ideal at baseline manifested lower self-esteem at posttesting. Among White women, those who watched the cosmetic surgery program reported greater perceptions of media pressures to be thin and stronger endorsement of their ability to control their body's appearance after watching the video. These differences persisted over a two-week follow-up period.


Reality TV cosmetic surgery makeover programs may contribute to eating disordered attitudes and behaviors among young women, particularly those who have internalized the thin body-ideal. These findings seem to be especially applicable for White women; however, they should be further investigated with more diverse and international samples.

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