University Students’ Perception on the Influence of the “Ideal” Media Body Image on their Choice of Clothing in Kenya
The study focused on examining the perception university students have concerning their body appearance in relation to what the media portrays as ‘ideal body image’. University students spend most of their time on social and mainstream media where they get to observe, like and share images portrayed by the media as ‘ideal image’. Studies have shown that the unrealistic body images portrayed as ‘ideal’ by the media causes individuals to develop negative body images on themselves which eventually results into body image dissatisfaction therefore, this study focused on determining students perception on what the media portrays as ideal body appearance; establishing the extent to which students are satisfied with their body appearance in relation to what the media portrays as ideal body appearance: examining the influence of the media body appearance on the students’ choice of clothing: and finally investigating ways used by the students to achieve their desired body appearance. The study was conducted in four universities; that is, University of Eldoret, Kirinyaga University Egerton University and St. Paul’s University. From each university, a sample of 132 students was randomly selected to participate in the study. This gave a total of 528 study respondents. A self-administered questionnaire and focus group discussion were used to collect data. In terms of body weight, Chi square statistics showed that there was a significant difference among the students in relation to their perception towards their body weight, at p<0.05 level of significance. In particular, among the students who perceived their body weight was very far from the ideal body image, majority of them were from university of Eldoret, followed by those from Egerton University and then Kirinyaga University College. St. Paul’s University had the least number of students who felt that their body weight was very far from the ideal image. This implies that most of the students from University of Eldoret were not comfortable with their body appearance compared to those from other universities. However, further analysis indicated that a significant number of the students from the four sampled universities were psychologically affected by people’s judgment in relation to their body appearance. Media and peer pressure were major influencing factor in student’s choice of clothing as such, majority of these students reported to have ever considered buying products to assist them in losing weight and achieving ideal body image. Among them, the highest number of the students was from University of Eldoret, followed by those from Kirinyaga University and then Egerton University. The study therefore concludes that most of the university students were not satisfied with their body appearance which eventually affects their self-esteem and academic performance The study recommends that there is need for the media to use women and men of different body images during fashion events and advertisements. This will promote positive thinking and create a sense of pride.
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