UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The ideological construction of the female body : a critical discourse analysis of messages to the readers of Seventeen Rahal, Louai I.


Research studies have consistently reported a correlation between exposure to appearance media and body dissatisfaction among young (and adult) women. The mainstream literature on body dissatisfaction attributes body dissatisfaction to an uncritical consumption of media by young (and adult) women. The feminist literature on body dissatisfaction suggests that media messages are one aspect of the social subordination of women and that body dissatisfaction originates in unrealistic social expectations about the female body. This thesis examined how Seventeen textually constructs the female body. Through acts of linguistic and discursive signification, the female body is homogenized and differences—in terms of race, ability, and social class, for example—are erased. Moving across a range of genres in Seventeen, the discourses of heterosexuality, hedonism, paternalism, vulnerability, and altruism work together to universalize a singular perspective on the female body. Ultimately, Seventeen constructs the female body as a barrier to the aspirations of the subject occupying it. The female body is constructed as a body that cannot gain attention without being constantly changed and made to look different. Based on the analysis, this thesis recommends that educational interventions go beyond media literacy and focus on media production: Eliminating body dissatisfaction necessarily involves the production of an alternative female body. Future research needs to examine the semiotic resources and media production support that can be offered to young women in order to help them respond to the mainstream construction of the female body with their own alternative constructions.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International