Psychology provides an insight on contemporary issues in a number of ways as it strives to comprehend how we think, act and feel. It uses scientific methods to research social influence, perception and social interaction (Tyson, Jones and Elcock, 2011).
Body image has been viewed as a psychological construct by Wykes and Gunter (2005). When an individual is continually labelled and considered in a certain way, he or she then develops a self-image. The self-image indicates how an individual frequently identifies himself. It usually entails of native, bodily feeling, body image etc. The ego-ideal has also been seen to have an effect on how people perceive their body image. It possibly is constructed by other individuals who are seen as role model for example movie stars, celebrities etc (Michael Argyle, 1994).
The body image is an essential part of the self-image and has been found to be particularly important for women and young girls (Michael Argyle, 1994). This essentiality of the importance of body image is first encountered during puberty (Ussher, 1989). Counihan (as citied in Wykes & Gunter, 2005) goes on to state that this fascination with body image has had historical patterns but it is disputably different from earlier illustrations and has become widespread in the contemporary Western culture. Orbach (as citied in Ussher, 1989) observed that this increase in body obsession has been majorly brought on by the effects of the media as it tends to construct images that are farfetched from reality. The suggestive implication illustrated by the media forewarns young women that their bodies are undependable and can be disappointing through weight gain, secretion of distasteful odours and bleeding. As well as that, they grasp the assumption that their bodies hold the key to happiness for example through the message that through their bodies they can lure a man (Ussher, 1989).
From a young age, females are bombarded with socially constructed images of the perfect body. As women begin to alter their bodies to the socially constructed image that is portrayed by society, they in turn adopt the idea that their natural bodies are unpleasant (Wykes & Gunter, 2005). A current study by Theander (as citied in Wykes & Gunter, 2005) on 37,500 school children supported this view. It was found that 60% of 14 and 15 year olds viewed themselves as more weighty than they actually were even though they were actually either the regular weight or underweight. Conversely, studies that have been done on school children have been understood to not be generalizable or representative of the general population. Studies like these have been seen to take more of an interest in examining the origins of body image dissatisfaction rather than determining its national predominance (Wykes & Gunter, 2005). The change of the body that takes place during puberty bestows the stereotype of feminine beauty that the more plump body is viewed as unappealing and in turn triggers worry in teenage females (Ussher, 1987). Orbach (as citied in Ussher, 1987) expressed that at during this phase is when the young female begins to acquire a lack of confidence about their body even though it’s not entirely in their control. Ussher articulates that this phase is the basis for which the foundation that results in women defining themselves ‘through their bodies, their biological structure, for the rest of their lives’ (1987, p.40) According to Wykes and Gunter, there has been research to support the assumption that a lack of confidence in women of their bodies affects the way they define themselves through the use of readership surveys administered by glossy magazines in the UK. A survey in 2000 run by Top Sante through a national newspaper found that ‘half of a sample of 5,000 women with an average age of 37 years old’ saw themselves as being overweight. As well as that, more than 83% stated that that they felt constrained by...
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