The impact of advertising and culture on the transformation of body image in Nigeria

Abimbola, Mojisayo Oluwabunmi (2017) The impact of advertising and culture on the transformation of body image in Nigeria. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

[thumbnail of Thesis document]
PDF (Thesis document) - Submitted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.



This study focuses on the impact of advertising and the influence of culture on the transformation of the ideal body image in Nigeria over a period of 25 years (1988-2013). The study contributes to knowledge of how culture and sociocultural factors may have an influence on overweight body size as ideal body image for Nigerians. The body has become a central part of the modern person’s self-identity; therefore, a body that appears healthy and good looking provides cultural capital to the individual. Moreover, an ideal body image is the body size determined by one’s cultural group to epitomize beauty. A pattern emerges where beauty is negatively correlated with being overweight in developed countries for women. However, the reverse pattern is found in developing societies like Nigeria where there is strong positive relationship between beauty and an overweight body image size.
Furthermore, sociocultural theories have had a significant impact in the development of ideal body image and self -Identity. According to these theories, there is a strong emphasis in Western societies on thinness as a central aspect of beauty for women. While many studies, mainly from the developed Western contexts, have argued that thin models are preferred in advertisements, there is a paucity of empirical research from the developing, and particularly African context that interrogates how this is necessarily impacting on attitude, particularly in relation to body image size. In existing body image knowledge, many women in contemporary Western cultures have developed what has been termed a ‘normative discontent’ with their bodies, which in turn is a risk factor for body dissatisfaction. However, little is known about the current development of these phenomena amongst literate Nigerian adults, or when they develop. In this thesis, the research examines how the role of sociocultural influences in individual denudation to experiencing pressure of possessing ideal body image is portrayed in Nigerian advertisements. Using a combination of 1531 questionnaires and content analysis of advertisements in Nigerian magazines, the study finds that a higher percentage of Nigerian males and females wish to increase their body image size and a strong positive correlation was found between body image attitude and family influence. The content
analysis result also shows that in the last decade there has been a transformation in the body image of models portrayed in Nigerian advertisements from overweight to normal and thin size.
These findings suggest that younger Nigerian females may be moving towards a Western body image ideal. The study also supports the contention that higher education leads to exposure to Western culture, an acculturation process that may result in thinness becoming highly valued in Nigeria.

Repository Staff Only: item control page