Health Versus Appearance Versus Body Competence: A Content Analysis Investigating Frames of Health Advice in Women’s Health Magazines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present study investigated the extent to which women’s health magazines advise readers to adopt healthy behaviors in order to look good (appearance frame), in order to feel good (health frame), or in order to perform better (body competence frame). A content analysis of 5 years of the 6 highest circulating U.S. women’s health magazines revealed a higher frequency of health frames (32.6%) than appearance frames (24.8%) overall, but when beauty/health hybrid magazines (i.e., Shape and Self) were examined separately, appearance frames (32.8%) outnumbered health frames (26.5%). Compared to appearance and health frames, body competence frames were underrepresented (13.3% in the full sample). The visual sexual objectification of female models in women’s health magazines was also investigated. Appearance-framed articles (43.2%) were significantly more likely to visually depict women with a high degree of skin exposure than health-framed articles (17.4%), and appearance-framed articles (34.8%) were more likely to focus on individual body parts than health-framed articles (21.3%). In addition, despite the magazines’ editorial focus on health, the most frequent category of products advertised was appearance-enhancing products. Results are discussed in light of self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985) and objectification theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Health Communication
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Mar 28 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health(social science)
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Communication

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