Date of Award

5-2014

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

History

First Advisor

Heather Stur, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

History

Abstract

For this study, the researcher viewed advertisements in popular magazines from 1952 to 1995 that focus on women’s body image. The sample consisted of advertisements found in Life and Cosmopolitan magazines. Instead of observing every issue throughout the forty-three year period, the researcher chose a few issues from each magazine every five years. 180 advertisements were viewed in this study. The researcher observed three different elements found in the advertisements: the product being sold, the appeals of sexuality, if any, in the ads, and the appearance of the advertisements’ models. This research attempted to prove that over the course of a forty-three year period, the depictions of women in advertisements found in Life and Cosmopolitan magazines shifted from curvy women to thin women. Ultimately, this hypothesis was disproved because the women in the magazines were depicted as more athletic than curvy, but the research still remains helpful by providing insights into what could have happened to change the women’s depictions from “fit/average” to “lean.”

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