Body Image

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The term "body image" describes a person's inner sense of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the physical appearance of his or her body. For most of us, our body image reflects reality: whether we gain or lose a few pounds, achieve muscular definition through exercise or develop "love handles," we generally know it. Our body image is a relatively accurate reflection of these constant changes. Body Image is how we see and picture ourselves. It is how we feel that others perceive us and what we believe about your physical appearance. Body image has to do with how we feel being inside of our bodies. It is something that is not static, and changes quite often. It is sensitive to our changes in mood, environment, and our physical experiences. It is not something that is based on facts, but something that is created in our minds about ourselves and is influenced by our self-esteem and our society's physical attractiveness standards. It is not something that we are born thinking, but what we learn from our family members, peers and society. Body Image issues are a major concern in our society. Western society places a high value upon appearance. Self-worth is higher for those who are judged as being attractive. Those who are judged as unattractive can feel as though they are disadvantaged. This message from the media, fashion and our peers can create a longing to win the approval of our culture and fit in at any cost. And this can be very disastrous to our self esteem. There is an increased amount of people having eating disorders, numerous plastic surgeries, and obsessions with exercising and staying fit. Body image dissatisfaction is so epidemic in our society that it’s almost considered normal. Recent studies show preschoolers are already exposed to hearing that certain types of foods, especially sugar, might make them "fat." The media sends powerful messages to girls and women about the acceptability (or unacceptability) of their bodies. Young girls are thought to compare themselves to women portrayed as successful in the media, assessing how closely they match up to the "ideal" body form. Unfortunately, the majority of girls and women (96%) do not match up to the models and actresses presented in the media. The average model is 5'10" and weighs 110 pounds, whereas the average women is 5'4" and weighs 142 pounds. This is the largest discrepancy that has ever existed between women and the cultural ideal. This discrepancy leads many women and girls to feel inadequate and negative about their bodies. It is important to realize that only 4% of women genetically have the "ideal" body currently presented in the media, the other 96% of women feel they must go to extreme measures to attempt to reach this unobtainable image. Many of the images presented in the media have been computer enhanced and airbrushed. The models' hips and waists have often been slimmed and their breasts enlarged through computer photo manipulation. Many of the women presented in the media suffer from an eating disorder or have adopted disordered eating behaviors to maintain such low body weights. It is important to start to question images in the media and question why women should feel compelled to "live up" to these unrealistic standards of beauty and thinness. Kids as early as the third grade are concerned about their weight. But the most vulnerable are teenagers. This is the age we are most impressionable and start to develop self-confidence and self-perception. Body shapes are changing rapidly. About half of female teens think they’re too fat and almost 50% are dieting. There is a lot of pressure to succeed and fit in. One of the ways to fit in is to have "the perfect body." The diet/fitness craze is extreme. It’s not just dieting; it is diet foods, and diet commercials. Everybody’s counting fat grams. Listen to the conversation in the lunch room, locker room or on the bus to school. The talk centers on dieting, fat thighs or tight "abs" and...
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