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Body Image. 2005 Mar;2(1):81-6.

Do representations of male muscularity differ in men's and women's magazines?

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1
1285 Franz Hall, Department of Psychology, 3rd Floor Mailroom, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

Abstract

Men overestimate the degree of muscularity that is attractive to women, and women overestimate the degree of thinness that is most attractive to men. Consistent with the thesis that sociocultural input influences such body type preferences and beliefs, we postulated that magazines aimed at a male audience would portray a more muscular male body ideal than would magazines aimed at a female audience. Systematic comparison of popular magazines (Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, Men's Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness) revealed that the ideal male body marketed to men is more muscular than the ideal male body marketed to women. We introduce the Physical Trait Overvaluation Hypothesis, which proposes that gender-specific media fuel emphasis on certain body parts in within-gender prestige competitions. The resulting competitive escalation creates a disconnect between the preferences of one gender and the personal aspirations of the other.

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