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Adolescents’ Objectification of Their Same-Sex Friends: Indirect Relationships With Media Use Through SelfObjectification, Rewarded Appearance Ideals, and Online Appearance Conversations


media self-objectification friend-objectification rewarded appearance ideals

Publication details

Year: 2020
DOI: 10.1177/1077699020959723
Issued: 2020
Language: English
Start Page: 1
End Page: 25
Authors: Vangeel L.; Trekels J.; Eggermont S.; Vandenbosch L.
Type: Journal article
Journal: Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Topics: Wellbeing; Content-related issues
Sample: 640 participants aged 12 to 18 years from 19 participating Flemish schools


The current cross-sectional study among adolescent boys and girls (N = 640, Mage = 15.47, SD = 1.63) examined whether exposure to popular television programs and Facebook predicts the extent to which adolescents objectify their same-sex friends. Two pathways were tested to explain these relationships. The first included internalization of rewarded appearance ideals and self-objectification. The second included appearance conversations with friends on Facebook. Results revealed that adolescents’ television exposure and Facebook use only indirectly predicted friendobjectification through their engagement in appearance conversations on Facebook. The relationship between television exposure and friend-objectification was also fully mediated by internalization and self-objectification


"Although sexualizing photographs are prevalent on SNSs, Facebook use was not associated with the internalization of rewarded appearance ideals. As Facebook mostly relies on contact with friends and acquaintances, future research may benefit from measuring SNS use to monitor celebrities or models or addressing internalization with a measure that exclusively focuses on standards of appearance promoted on SNSs. Higher levels of self-objectification related to more objectification of others. A media-induced objectifying view might have negative consequences on adolescent friendships through internalization of appearance ideals and an objectifying self-view. However, the mixed results with regard to Facebook use indicate that the relation between media use and friend-objectification may not exclusively be explained by the mechanisms inspired by objectification theory. Popular TV programs and Facebook were predictive of more frequent online appearance conversations with friends. A possible explanation may be the presence of an appearance culture among friends by which adolescents learn the value of an attractive physical appearance. This culture also plays a role in the way adolescents view and evaluate their friends. Although no significant differences were found between gender, girls had higher mean values than boys on the measures in the model, except friend-objectification and rating their appearance-related body attributes as almost as important as their competence-related attributes, whereas boys generally rated their competence-related attributes more clearly as more important. These results reflect the traditional expectations that men are the ones who objectify, whereas women are more likely to be the ones who are objectified." (Rousseau et al., 2017, pp. 16-18)

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