Student Research Projects

Beauty Within: Makeup's Relationship with Self-Esteem

Student Emily Powers, '17
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Psychology
Course PSY 480: Original Research Project


Previous research has shown a relationship between body dissatisfaction and media intake. Social comparisons with thin ideals in the media also cause problematic body expectations for women. The aim of the present study was to identify a relationship between social pressures of unattainable beauty and self-esteem in women. Undergraduate women at Virginia Wesleyan College completed questionnaires focusing on appearance, social and performance self-esteem. Participants were randomly assigned to either a control group where they saw neutral images or an experimental group, where they removed their makeup and saw thin-ideal images. Results showed a significant decrease in social and appearance with exposure to overly sexualized images in media. Participants who were exposed to neutral images showed an increase in both social and appearance. This research makes a novel contribution to the research on the effects of media on women\'s self-esteem.


Virginia Wesleyan Undergraduate Research Grant, 2016-17