Searching Out the Ideal: Awareness of Ideal Body Standards Predicts Lower Global Self-esteem in Women

Emily Balcetis, Shana Cole, Marie B. Chelberg, Mark Alicke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Does awareness of female body ideals affect women's global self-esteem? We measured awareness of ideal standards for beauty via two approaches. As one approach, participants (55 undergraduate women) self-reported their general propensity to be aware of society's thin ideal standard. As a second approach, we measured visual attention orienting to ideal standards; we covertly measured participants' eye movements to peers' purported ideal standards. Self-reported awareness predicted lower baseline self-esteem; this relationship was mediated by internalization of the thin ideal. Awareness as assessed through attention orienting to peers' ideal standards predicted decreases in global self-esteem, above the effects of self-reported awareness, internalization, and actual measures of physical fitness. Implications for awareness of ideal standards and the media's portrayal of the thin ideal are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-113
Number of pages15
JournalSelf and Identity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013



  • Awareness
  • Body image
  • Eye tracking
  • Self-esteem
  • Thin ideal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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