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Running Head: BODY IMAGE DISSATISFACTION

Body Image Dissatisfaction: Ashley N. Burke Broward College

BODY IMAGE DISSATISFACTION Body Image Dissatisfaction

Body image can be defined as the way someone perceives their physical appearance. A person with a positive body image has a clear sense of the way their body truly is. They accept their flaws and appreciate their natural body. In contrast, a person with a negative body image has a distorted view of their body and constantly identifies imperfections. They are ashamed of their bodies and feel uncomfortable. An enormous interest in the topic of body image perception, distortion, and satisfaction has developed throughout the past two to three decades (Furnham, Badmin, & Sneade, 2002). Many people, everywhere, desire to be viewed as attractive. Attractive people undoubtedly have distinct advantages in society. Attractive people are more popular and are more likely to get jobs and higher salaries. In court, they are often found not guilty or given a less severe punishment (Kate Fox, 1997). According to Fox (1997), this bias for beauty is apparent in almost all social situations, and studies have shown that people react more favorably to attractive people. Body image dissatisfaction differs as a result of someones age, sex, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. Age Barbie is a cultural icon for female beauty and an aspirational role model for young girls, yet her body proportions are both unrealistic and unhealthy (Dittmar, Halliwell, & Ive, 2006). Barbie is the best-selling doll in the global market, and girls around the world have thought, I want to be her. Fantasy and play are major parts of socialization during early childhood, and several ideals and values are internalized. (Dittmar et al., 2006). Thus, girls may develop a negative body image and desire the idealized thin body frame. Children between the

BODY IMAGE DISSATISFACTION

ages of 6 and 13 showed evidence of body image dissatisfaction, with all age groups wanting to be thinner. Likewise, children from ages 4 to 6 reacted more favorably to a thin body (Dittmar et al., 2006). Three year olds, however, showed no aversion to chubby images. Young boys may also develop lower body satisfaction during early childhood. When researchers conducted a study documenting trends over time in the muscularity of male action figures, they found that when compared to human size, todays G.I. Joe figure would be just as unattainable to boys as the Barbie doll is for girls (Olivdaria et al., 2004). Adolescence is an awkward time of self-discovery for many teens. Negative body images usually develop at this stage in life. Body image dissatisfaction in adolescents attracts the most attention because it is used in the prediction of low self-esteem, eating disorders, and depression. According to Jones (2004), The extent of body dissatisfaction among adolescent girls has frequently been explained by the greater sociocultural emphasis on physical attractiveness for women (p. 823). A longitudinal study of adolescent girls and boys investigated the contributions of social, psychological, and biological factors to the development of body image dissatisfaction. Students completed questionnaires in 7th or 10th grade and again 1 year later. The results for boys revealed an internalization of muscular ideals, leading to body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction in girls was a result of appearance conversations with friends, appearance social comparisons, and body mass. There are many new bodily changes during adolescence, so it is easy to see how this awkward stage can result in negative body images. Adults vary in body image satisfaction according to age. Most studies are conducted with women between the ages of 18 and 25, because a large percentage of women in this age group are dissatisfied with their bodies (Tiggemann & Lynch, 2001). Middle aged women are typically insecure and have many body image concerns. Around ages 40 to 55, women begin to age.

BODY IMAGE DISSATISFACTION

Wrinkles develop and many women gradually gain weight. Both women and men experience changes in their body shape, lose skin elasticity, and their hair goes grey or thins (Tiggemann & Lynch, 2001). Older men tend to worry most about losing their hair, although body image dissatisfaction is uncommon among men of this age group. Even as people grow old, body image concerns continue to be a hindrance. Gender Differences All research shows that women are more dissatisfied with their bodies than men. The pressure to look and behave in certain ways is so deeply rooted in the minds of many women that it is easy to overlook the impact mass culture has on how they feel about themselves and their bodies. Women are constantly bombarded with idealistic images of perfect beauty and thinness in the media. Ironically, as images of the ideal body shape presented in the media over the past few decades have progressively become thinner, actual women have become heavier (Tiggemann & Lynch, 2001). Numerous content analyses of fashion magazines and television programs provide strong evidence that media-portrayed female beauty ideals are increasingly and unrealistically thin (Hargreaves & Tiggemann, 2009). Moreover, several correlational studies confirm a connection between the consumption of such media and female body dissatisfaction. Women are generally more dissatisfied with their physical appearance than men (Furnham, et al., 2002). They tend to describe themselves as fat and constantly infatuate themselves with outrageous diets. According to Furnham and Calnan, (2002) Women are more likely to judge themselves overweight when by objective standards they are not, whereas men are more likely to perceive themselves as underweight with respect to objective standards (p. 583). In other words, women usually have the desire to be thinner, while men are more likely to feel dissatisfied with their muscle size and tone and wish to be more muscular. Men are generally

BODY IMAGE DISSATISFACTION

pleased with their appearance or indifferent. Women are more self-critical because they are judged on their appearance more than men, and standards of female beauty are considerably higher and more inflexible (Fox, 1997). In todays growing age of mass media, frequent exposure to idealized images of female beauty on television, magazines, and billboards makes exceptional good looks seem normal and anything short of perfection seem abnormal and ugly (Fox, 1997). Nevertheless, women are not the only ones feeling the pressure to be attractive. The body image concerns of men have not been addressed in the scientific literature nearly as extensively as the body image concerns of women (Olivardia, Pope, Borowiecki, & Cohane, 2004) but they certainly exist and must be acknowledged. Images in the media promote muscular men with bulging biceps and chiseled features. Muscles are often associated with masculinity. Men also strive to be more muscular because women are typically attracted to men with lean and toned body frames. As a result, men who participate in sports are more satisfied with their bodies than those who do not (Fox, 1997). Depression and body image dissatisfaction generally accompany each other in women. On the contrary, few studies have displayed a correlation between depression and body image distortions in men (Olividaria et al., 2004). Although men are not typically as insecure as women, we can no longer ignore or deny that they are burdened by the pressure to be lean and muscular. Sexual Orientation As reported by Kimmel and Mahalik (2005), Gay men tend to report greater body dissatisfaction, body-related distress, eating-disordered behavior, and poorer body image than do heterosexual men (p. 1185). Some scholars believe that gay men who internalize homophobic

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attitudes and fear condemnation for being gay may desire a masculine physique as a form of selfdefense against the prejudice from others or may develop a negative body image as a result of their own internalized shame (Kimmel & Mahalik, 2005). In contrast, lesbians are generally more comfortable with their bodies. They do not place emphasis on physical appearances and are significantly more satisfied with their mirror image than heterosexual women (Fox, 1997). Ethnicity Previous studies have indicated that white women, in general, are more dissatisfied with their bodies. Black and Asian women typically have a more positive body image than White women, although it depends on the extent to which they have accepted the beauty standards of the dominant culture (Fox, 1997). Although White women are commonly linked with body image dissatisfaction, women of other ethnic groups feel the pressure to beautiful as well. When compared to Black women, White women had a greater risk for eating disorders and restrictive behaviors but there were no significant differences in regards to binge eating and bulimic behaviors (Gordon, Castro, Sitnikov, & Holm-Denoma, 2010). According to Gilbert (2003), Some have proposed that women of ethnic minority groups are at reduced risk for eating disorders because their cultural groups espouse larger, more attainable body ideals, which reduces pressure to conform to a thin mainstream body ideal. Others believe that minority women may be at risk for body image dissatisfaction because White women are depicted as the standard of beauty in mainstream media (Gordon, et al., 2010) Research findings on differences in body image dissatisfaction are inconsistent and therefore it is not clear how similaror differentbody image concerns are between varying ethnicities (Shaw, Ramirez, Trost, Randall, Stice, 2004).

BODY IMAGE DISSATISFACTION Eating Disorders

Numerous people with negative body images resort to eating disorders to alter their physical appearance. Two of the most common eating disorders associated with body image dissatisfaction are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, according to the American Psychiatric Associations (1994) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMIV). Another widely known eating disorder is binge eating disorder (BED). Anorexia nervosa is defined as the successful pursuit of thinness by restricting ones diet, resulting in body weight below the healthy range (Wilson, Grilo, and Vitousek, 2007). Patients have extreme issues with body image distortion and are intensely fearful of becoming overweight (Wilson et al., 2007). Wilson, Grilo, and Vitousek (2007) found that semi-starvation brings about profound and predictable changes in mood, behavior, and physiology, including depression, social withdrawal, food preoccupation, altered hormone secretion, amenorrhea, and decreased metabolic rate. Anorexia nervosa usually begins during adolescence and primarily affects girls and young women (Wilson et al., 2007). Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating followed by regurgitation. The criteria for a patient to be classified as bulimic require that an individual binges and purges twice a week for 3 months (Bulik, Sullivan, & Kendler, 2000). Binge eating disorder (BED), involves persistent and frequent episodes of uncontrollable binge eating in the absence of regular compensatory behaviors, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Researchers have reported that BED is a chronic disorder that is linked to obesity. BED is more prevalent in males than are the other eating disorders (Telch, Agras, & Linehan, 2001). Eating disorders can put an enormous amount of stress on body functions and may lead to death. Treatment

BODY IMAGE DISSATISFACTION

Family therapy is the most extensively investigated treatment for anorexia nervosa (Wilson et al., 2007). The most common form of family therapy is known as the Maudsley model. The model is generally applied to adolescent patients and it involves 10 to 20 family sessions spaced over a period of 6 to 12 months. In the first phase of treatment, parents must take complete control over their childs eating and weight. Once the child learns to abide by authority, the external control gradually lessens (Wilson et al., 2007). The patients right to age-appropriate autonomy is linked to the resolution of her eating disorder (Wilson et al., 2007). Due to the fact that binge eating is central to both bulimia nervosa and BED, treatment research is parallel for both disorders (Telch et al., 2001). Cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), and pharmacotherapy have been applied and tested in the treatment of BED (Telch et al., 2001). CBT, the most popular treatment, focuses on decreasing dietary restrictions and adopting healthy eating patterns. Additionally, CBT strives to eliminate negative beliefs regarding eating and weight (Telch et al., 2001). Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) specifically targets emotion regulation by teaching adaptive skills to enhance patients' emotion regulation (Telch et al., 2001). In an uncontrolled treatment trial, eleven women with binge eating disorder received group DBT skills training that consisted of a 20-session manualized treatment adapted from Linehan's treatment manuals (Telch et al., 2001). None of the women resisted or abandoned the treatment, and 82% of the women had abstained from binge eating at end of treatment (Telch et al., 2001). Conclusions Body image dissatisfaction is apparent in men, women, and children all around the world. Some cases are more severe, while others are merely a result of human nature. Influences in the media have been identified as a major cause of body image distortion, and it is easy to see why.

BODY IMAGE DISSATISFACTION

The idea of perfect beauty is unattainable, as we all have flaws, yet so many people try to convince themselves that wrinkle creams, starvation, or plastic surgery will make them look like the airbrushed beauties on billboards and in magazines. The simple fact is that happiness cannot be achieved until we accept who we are as human beings. Love of self can prove to be one of the key solutions to societal body image dissatisfaction.