The Obsession with Body Image Among Adolescents

Topics: Anorexia nervosa, Eating disorders, Bulimia nervosa Pages: 5 (1789 words) Published: November 15, 2011
As each year passes, it is becoming more and more difficult to be an adolescent. Many problems are beginning to arise for teens. Such problems include trying to deal with societal pressures to handling the stresses in life. Without the proper guidance and information, it is easy for the adolescent to veer in the wrong direction. The negative outcomes may include low self-esteem to resorting to eating disorders. Body image is also very important among teens these days. The pressure of trying to attain the “ideal” image is detrimental to some.

Body image is commonly defined as “the degree of satisfaction with one’s current physical self—size, shape, or physical appearance” (Jones, 2001, p.1). Many studies have shown that adolescents, especially females, place great emphasis on body image due to social comparison. The finding has been that females who often compare themselves to models and celebrities from the media are more likely to be dissatisfied with their own appearance (Jones, 2001, p.1). Social comparison refers to “the cognitive judgments that people make about their own attributes compared to others” (Jones, 2001, p.1). The media tends to display repeated images of thin females and muscular males to shape the viewer into thinking that that these are the forms of standard beauty. As a result, the viewer, most often time being adolescents, tend to have a negative self-perception of themselves. Another contributor of low self-esteem among adolescents are their own peers. Peers are a “vital part of the lives of adolescents and play an increasingly prominent role in defining social expectations, establishing identity, and evaluating self” (Jones, 2001, p.1). Studies have supported the fact that at a young age, children are pressured by their peers to conform to appearance expectation.

Males and females tend to have different perceptions on which attributes are deemed “attractive”. Females feel that body weight is the determinant in being attractive or not; whereas males concentrate more on their height and shoulders or muscular shape (Jones, 2001, p.2). Two separate studies were conducted to further examine the attractiveness social comparison during adolescence through self-reports of boys and girls from 7th and 10th grade. According to Jones, the research was guided by these four questions: “What are the attributes of attractiveness as defined by adolescents? Are there gender differences in these attractiveness attributes? Are there differences in the frequency with which adolescent boys and girls report same-sex peers or models as targets of social comparisons? Are there differential relationships in targets/attributes of social comparison and body image satisfaction?” (2001, p.2). In the first study, participants described their perceptions of attractiveness for same- and opposite-sex adolescents. These results were then used to help conduct the second study, in which the purpose was to “assess the self-reported frequency with which adolescents compared themselves to model/celebrities or peers and to determine the relationship between social comparison and body image satisfaction for boys and girls” (Jones, 2001, p.2). Upon these two studies, it could be concluded that adolescent females and males value height and facial features as common expectations of attractiveness in same- and opposite-sex peers. The obsession with body image leads to the addictive patterns of eating disorders. Nowadays, eating disorders is becoming a rising concern in adolescents. The most common eating disorders are bulimia and anorexia nervosa. According to Stöppler (2009), anorexia nervosa is a psychological disorder that goes beyond out-of-control dieting. A person with anorexia tends to start off with just dieting to lose weight and eventually results in a cycle of obsessive restrictive eating (Stöppler, 2009). Other behaviors such as excessive exercising, overusing diuretics and laxatives, and starvation are...
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