Emerging adults' perceptions of messages about physical appearance

Meghan M. Gillen, Eva S. Lefkowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (SciVal)


Emerging adults receive messages about physical appearance from a range of sources, but few studies have examined the content of these messages. Undergraduates (N = 154) who identified as African American, Latino American, and European American answered 4 open-ended questions about messages they perceived about physical appearance from family, peers, school, and media. Raters coded responses for content and affect. The most common messages perceived were the importance/non-importance of appearance, positive comments about appearance, and the link between attractiveness and success. The perception of these messages frequently differed by gender and source, but rarely by ethnicity. Women perceived more frequent and more negative messages than did men. Individuals perceived the media as transmitting more negative messages and the family more healthful and positive ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-185
Number of pages8
JournalBody Image
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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