This chapter analyses the role of the mass media in people’s perceptions of beauty. We summarize the research literature on the mass media, both traditional media and online social media, and how they appear to interact with psychological factors to impact appearance concerns and body image disturbances. There is a strong support for the idea that traditional forms of media (e.g. magazines and music videos) affect perceptions of beauty and appearance concerns by leading women to internalize a very slender body type as ideal or beautiful. Rather than simply being passive recipients of unrealistic beauty ideals communicated to them via the media, a great number of individuals actually seek out idealized images in the media. Finally, we review what is known about the role of social media in impacting society’s perception of beauty and notions of idealized physical forms. Social media are more interactive than traditional media and the effects of self‐presentation strategies on perceptions of beauty have just begun to be studied. This is an emerging area of research that is of high relevance to researchers and clinicians interested in body image and appearance concerns.
Part of the book: Perception of Beauty