Topic One - Body Imagegreenspun.com : LUSENET : Dress, Role & Status : One Thread
How we see ourselves is influenced by so many factors - our upbringing, our wider culture and its expectations, our unique physiology - the subject can become confusing.
Try to focus on one or two forces in your discussion.
In terms of print - you would do well to read the recent article in the Age Good Weekend March 4, 2000 about women's body image - it's very good! (and maybe online at the Age site).
-- Anonymous, March 08, 2000
Hi, I seem to be the first on this site so although I can't make any comment on what's been said so far I will share with you some thoughts and research I have recently undertaken on Body Image. I've been looking in particular at the relationship between self-esteem and body image, especially in regards to women. According to Nicholas and Melissa Karolides, authors of "Focus on Fitness", self-esteem can influence a person's estimation of his or her own physical attractiveness. Research has shown a strong connection between self-esteem and body image that has little to do with physical characteristics. Even Helen Garner in the recent article, 'Our bodies ourselves' believes that a woman's body and idea of herself are 'inextricably bound together' and that its not just a matter of appearance, but its about people filled with really deep doubts about their own existence and whether they're acceptable for anyone to love.
There seems to be a real struggle to achieve what women consider to be an ideal body image. For example, while the male builds upon his physique, the female conversely shrinks her physique. Jennifer Fod, in her web-site essay 'Weight Obsessed Women: Why?' cleverly points out how women will complain about their 'bulging' stomach whilst men 'pat their extra pudge with tacit pride'. Current fashion for women reflects the 'Peter-Pan-like desire to stay young and remain almost pre-pubescent' (thin, flat-chested and short hair or shaved heads). You only have to look around you or in the latest magazines!
'A thin frame in our society is often matched with success, happiness and intelligence, while a heavier figure is associated with sloppiness, laziness, poverty, and poor self-control' writes Michelle Hogan, in her web-site essay 'Body Image Varies by Race Culture'. Whenever I have achieved what I consider to be my ideal body image, I feel great, more confident, more sociable and outgoing, and possess a more positive outlook in general. I also feel more in control just like Moya Sayer-Jones in 'Our bodies ourselves', who claims 'I never felt better than when I've got control of that weight thing and I'm exercising and I feel fit'. However, I must admit, for me this good feeling only lasts for a limited time and then becomes a feeling of emptiness because looking good simply isn't enough to sustain a deeper sense of fulfillment for me inside.
I think its true that people often become victims of this culturally prescribed image as they attempt to match their body to an ideal. An ideal which is not a healthy and often not even a possible one to achieve!
I also believe that self-image, or the subjective view that individuals have of their own bodies, is at the heart of the problem. Even the most desirable model who is adored by many may not consider herself attractive if her self-esteem is low. But a person who is plain but confident and possessing strong internal feelings of worth is probably satisfied with his or her appearance.
My aim is to achieve a state of satisfaction in regards to my body image rather than try and achieve the impossible expectations that society puts on us. Ruth
-- Anonymous, March 14, 2000
A negative body image seems to be more of an issue for women than men.
Ruths statement women will complain about their 'bulging' stomach whilst men 'pat their extra pudge with tacit pride' is a funny, but accurate, description of how women rely on their body to enhance their self esteem. During my research I found another example of how body image seems to affect women more. I read that women felt more embarrassed when asked about their weight, than when men were asked about occurrences of homosexual affairs. Women seem to feel ashamed of their bodies.
You just have to walk down the street to realise that the people in magazines and ads are not real people. They are our ideal of beautiful people. These images have a profound affect on us, particularly women. We see hundreds of ads daily, it is hard to resist. The ads make us want to look slimmer, younger, fitter etc. But the affects are quite staggering. According to the Body Shop web site, the dieting industry in the US is worth 33 billion dollars. Women spend up to a third of their income on beauty products. Today's standard of beauty keeps women psychologically and materially poor. Naomi Wolf, Beauty Myth.
Its depressing. Fortunately, companies like the Body Shop are actively campaigning against this, using slogans such as The Body Shop doesnt want to change the way you look. We want to change the way you feel about the way you look. http://www.thebodyshop.com.au/body/index.html Another organisation called About-Face are also campaigning against negative body-esteem in women. They focus on the impact the media has on the physical and mental health of women. Have a look at their web site, its fascinating (http://www.about-face.org/index.html). They have a gallery of images used in the media to sell products. They have added their own sarcastic comments and facts, such as Women are taught that they are to be slaves to beauty, no matter how limiting, uncomfortable, fake, or dangerous it is. Women are objects to be admired or to be on constant display. Rarely in images do we see women looking straight at us, meeting our gaze, unless they are crouched, nearly naked, or otherwise restricted or vulnerable. The web site really made me think. I have seen many of these ads in magazines but have never really thought about how offensive they are. It has really made me look at these ads more objectively.
-- Anonymous, March 18, 2000
I was very interested in your comment about how much income women spend on beauty products, because it was some-thing I hadn't really thought about. I have tried to explain this subject numerous times to my boyfriend, so that he can understand that to us, it's not a case of how much it costs, but repeating what I said earlier, about how it makes you feel. Hair, nails, skin, body, women are under more pressure to 'maintain' their appeal and to keep themselves looking young for as long as they can. I feel like a new woman when I get my hair done, or have a massage, and I know straight after it I carry myself differently. I wish I could feel like that always, and so do alot of other women.
I actually found another article in the Sunday paper about "The body business". The key phase that summarized this article was "Body beautiful: If you you've got it, flaunt it. If you haven't got it, get it, with the help of today's asthetic surgery revolution. It then went into indept detail to discuss the 'perils of perfection'. This whole thing reminded me of an incidence in high school where two girls in my year, over the summer vacation, came back to VCE with quite different faces. It turned out that the parents financed their 'new look', for their 18th birthday presents. What is this world coming to? As the article said, it's no longer the 40 years olds trying to maintain their youth, it's about 30 year olds wanting to look 20, and 20 year olds wanting to look 18. The facts on body image in today's youth are almost saying that we need to buy perfection as soon as we can, so we can experience the benefits of it for as long as possible.
I myself have always thought I'd get a nose job, but never thought about asking my parents to buy me one for my 18th birthday wish!
-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000
I would like to comment on what Ruth remarked about the connection between body image and self-esteem. I think it really does boil down to how a woman feels about herself and also other people's perceptions of her (that is, we like to be liked). Self-esteem can do wonders for a person and through body image, it can be improved.
My mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy. She had a choice of undertaking an intensive and shorter treatment or a less radical but longer treatment. Intensive treatment would have resulted in rapid hair loss, while in the other option, there was only a possibility of hair loss.
Hearing the doctor detail the nature of both treatments, I was sure my mother would select the intensive treatment as it also had a greater likelihood of eliminating all the cancer and future re-occurances. It seemed to me that hair loss for a short period was a small price to pay when your life is at risk.
My mother selected the less intensive treatment because of the chance that her hair might not fall out. She told me that she could not bear to face other people as a bald woman. To her, self-esteem had just as much of a task to perform as medical treatment.
However, the treatment did result in hair loss. My mother purchased a wig to hide the effects of the treament. It saddened her to be bald, but she knew it was only temporary. The comments she received from friends regarding her "new hairstyle" (she did not tell many people other than close relatives of her condition) helped enormously to get her through this ordeal.
It just goes to show you the influence of how you feel and how other people make you feel can do.
-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000
Body image is important to both sexes, however the extent varies greatly between males and females. It is a general belief that men have less of a focus and complex about their body image. Some would say that it would be more socially acceptable for a man to gain a few kilos, yet not a woman. Males with a large beer gut, for example, while maybe not physically attractive to most woman, may not be undermined and been made to feel inadequate. Dont get me wrong, though, men do worry about body image. The differentiating factor between men and woman, however, is the varying levels of concern given by men about their appearance. One man may not be overly concerned with the state of his physique, others may. The difference between the sexs and body image is what is seen to be the norm. Generally, men want to be bigger, toned of course, not fat but bigger in size. Being bigger, to a man, is a sign of power, the ability to be able to defend yourself and gain respect. Ask around and it may prove that its preferred for women to be lithe and slender. Some wish to be boyishly thin, others slightly feminine but they generally have similar focus, to be thin. Body image is important to most woman, and whether this be right or not, is important for a different reason to men.
Referring to what others have jotted down and other material that Ive, read, a lot of blame is placed on public image and the media. I do believe this is true to an extent, but I recently read an interesting article in an old Cleo magazine pointing out a fact that others may not normally consider. Glamorous images, models, celebrities are often noted as a cause of creating the ideal image, but the cases of celebrities who themselves could not meet the standard is remarkable. The story pointed out examples such as Karen Carpenter, Cherry Boon, Tracey Gold, even through to an anorexic, 21 year old Rosanne Barr and the stories told were amazing. These women are successful, wealthy, and talented but all this couldnt maintain happiness because of a poor personal body image and the pressure to maintain the unrealistic ideal, which the rest of us look up to. Being plagued with anorexia, bulimia, excessive exercise, drug abuse were the calmer stories and it does make you think if they arent exempt from this, then who is?
From personal experience and what Ive seen, Ive learned that body image can be a large part of someones life. Insecurities are caused by a lot of things, and its certainly not just to be blamed on the medias image. Ive got to say, I agree with Freya, that if you feel good, you look good, it is certainly true.
-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000
As Ruth, Freya and Simone have stated the pressure put on women to be "Picture Perfect" is greater than that put on men, however I also think that Kirsty point about men also being worried about their body image is a very significant point and I have based my research on the perceptions of both men and women on body image.
Whilst researching information on body image I came across a survey conducted in which men and women were asked to estimate their body size. Results showed that 95% of surveyed women said they were fatter then they actually were, and yet in the same test men consistently underestimated their weight and were actually fatter then they thought. This portrays the amount of pressure put on women to be thin and petite as they believed their weight was heavier than that of their realistic weight. Without the pressure to have the ideal body image,women would probably guess their correct weight with greater accuracy without the stress of being too fat. The results from this survey showed that men are also under pressure to be big and muscular.
The "perfect body" often seems to reflect the extremes of what is healthy and natural. And as just stated men are wanting to be big and muscular and have perfect muscle tone, while women are striving to be waife and unnaturally skinny. Another article stated that the image of todays "perfect girl" is 23% thinner than that of the average women of the 1990s and that she is 14% thinner than the models of the 1960s. Even if the "perfect girl" was to put on 8-10 kilograms her body weight would still be healthy and not overweight.
While weight is the main issue females face when thinking about body image, males on the other hand worry about their height (being too short) and being too skinny. Unfortunatley for males their height is largely decided for them by the genetic characteristics passed on to them by parents so it is out of their control. Those that that are so obsessed with their body image and beleive they are too skinny may turn to drugs such as steroids to bulk up and acheive the "perfect" male body.
The media is the biggest influence in our perception of the ideal body image. Looking back a few years ago, in advertising women were used to sell products for example fast food and clothing with the slogan in advertisers minds that 'sex sells'. In recent times we have seen the tables turn with males also becoming the sex objects and becoming the advertisers way of selling products. Take for instance the Coca-Cola advertisements with the fit, healthy looking young male with sweat beads on his chest delivering Coca-Cola to an office full of women who are awaiting his arrival. I'm sure you know the ad I am refering to, it shows us how women are not soley sex objects in the 21st century and men are also now slabs of meat to pray over.
In the fast and professional world of today, parents are finding less time to cook their children an evening meal and are subsituting a healthy meal with fast food because of convenience. Those juviniles that have been taken down this path are becoming overweight and when reaching their adolescence are finding it extreemly difficult to loose what they gained during their childhood years. This is just on example of the increasing problems associated with body image throughout the future.
So, I believe that women are under great demand to have the "perfect image", however as we welcome in the new century I believe the pressure on males is increasing to acheive the perfect body. I think the greater the demand to be perfect both for males and females is becoming a very serious health issue amongst society and should be addressed accordingly before we have a greater increase in our youth falling victims to mental and health disorders ultimatley caused by persuing the ideal body image.
-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000
After doing research on the topic of body image and reading everyone's comments I decided to base my discussion on the issue of body image and representations of women in the media. In the world we live in we just have to step outside the front door to see that the 'ideal' for women's bodies at the present is to be thin, fit, radiantly healthy and without anything out of proportion (fat nose, big nose etc) The message the media sends of this 'ideal' is everywhere just open a magazine or newspaper, turn on the television, wait for the bus or walk through the shopping centre.
In reference to Kirsty's comments based around not blaming the media for the pressure put on women to have the perfect body, I agree with in some circumstances. However I can not ignore the fact of how hypocritical today's media has become. Recently in a womens magazine I read an article about a girl's fight againt the eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa, this article also included information about services offered for people with this disorder. I then turned over the page to seeing a clothing advertisement with a clearly under weight model. I was left feeling rather perplexed.
Espicially overseas the media seems to have an obsession with the ultra thin, waif look. Alicia Silverstone was a slim girl of about sixteen when she stared in the movie 'Clueless'. She must have put on about 10kg by the time she made her next movie 'Batman and Robin' and was exposed to very hurtful and heartless headlines such as "Batman and Fatgirl" and "Watch out Batman, here comes Buttgirl".
Nevertheless there are some companies today that are trying to provide reasssurance to women that we don't all have to be perfect and look like barbie dolls. A good example is the 'body shop', in its advertisements it has a picture of a large woman with cellulite and wrinkles and comments that is completely normal to look like this and feel good about it too. It also has a great website dedicated to making people feeling happy and confident about the way they look. There are some magazines such as 'For Me' which are using healthy 12 or 14 sized women instead of thin 4 or 6 sized models.
The media's attention to eating disorders and mental illnesses such as depression which can be related to a negative body image is helping to inform and educate the public about the seroiusness of these disorders. Unfortunetly, the media then continues to use and idolise waif like models when I feel they have a responsibilty to this generation of children to hopefully give them a world they can feel confident and proud of the way they look compared to the way a large percentage of the population feel about their bodies today. What we, as a society need to learn is beauty is from within and n
-- Anonymous, March 23, 2000
This has been such aninteresting discussion so far I don't know where to begin.
I came up with another issue barely touched in this discussion, and it is the role of drugs in terms of image. I can demonstrate how this can apply to both sexes, as several people have discussed it is an issue for both sexes. I'm sure most of us have known people who have turned to some sort of drug or another, when they are suffering from bad body image. Whether this be to escape the ' pain ' in ones mind or to loose weight. I have known several girls who have turned to speed or cocaine or esctasy to loose weight, more so than to alter their mind. I have also known men who have turned to steriods to bulk up in order to improve their body image in terms of their own perception of themselves and others perception of them. It's amazing that there is literature lacking on this issue, as it is very prevalent in our society and has a huge role in body image with todays mentality. As Shymila said little things do become big things to those who live with the burden and drugs is an option many of us may think of.
A lot of us seem to be reading the Good Weekend and find interesting literature. Kerrie brought up some interesting points about the $91,050 plastic surgery woman. What I found more so interesting about this article, was a comment she made about not having gotten plastic surgery to get an huspand back. She emphasised it was a decision she made for herself, to make her feel beautiful. I think that that is really what plastic surgery is about in concerns to body image. I mean I would'nt go out and buy some boobs because my boyfriend would like them. I'd do it because of the way I would see myself and quite obviously the attention it would attract.
Ruth is right about our overweight youth. It is so important to recognise that bad perceptions about oneself stem at a very young age. So do bad habits and ideals. It is important that with our generation of children, we paint realistic images as Ruth further pointed out. Things such as the Ella Bache', real women advertisements, etc, which seem to be making a come back provide us with means to do this. To teach people that there is beauty in every-thing, if you really look at it and enjoy it for what it is.
Noe said that body image has to do with more than just sex, and of course it does. It was also stated earlier that statistics show women are more concerned about their body image than men, but they are catching up rapidly. I ask whether this is a good thing? I don't think so, because I would rather encourage lack of concern and total ease and happiness with oneself. But, since this isn't a fairytale world as all the statistics we've seen suggest, lets hope that they don't become as concerned as women.
With regards to that Windsor Smith ad, I can only think that any publicity is good publicity, and we would be better to ignore such pathetic advertising ploys, that draw attention to them. Lets just say, we all know that certain parts of her have been altered, whether with surgery or computer technology. But to be 'oh natural' and to like oneself, is more beautiful. Besides I like those little flaws, it helps remind us that we are all human, and not perfect.
-- Anonymous, March 28, 2000
I totally agree with Michelle that women have allot of pressure put on them to have the perfect body, but that we cannot over look the pressure on men and children. On a recent Today Tonight it was stated that an estimated 85% of people in Australia are overweight. This proves that not only women but men and children would have "body image issues." Children younger and younger are either overweight or underweight, there does not seem to be a happy medium. This proves that there needs to be even MORE education regarding what is and is not good for us regarding foods. Not only more education on good foods but education on having a healthy body image. The skinny children are skinny because they are influenced by magazines and the fat children are often teased which makes them eat more. Unfortunately it is the adults that started these issues about body image, hopefully though we will see the error of our/their ways and RE-EDUCATE the younger generation.
-- Anonymous, April 12, 2000
I would like to comment on Kirsty's section regarding overweight people being "made to feel inadequate", and Freya's comments on people being "discriminated against" because of their size. Most of the other responses have focused on how we are made to feel about our body image, but the pressure to look good in the slender, toned, pretty way has to be sourced from somewhere. I beleive it is the need to be accepted which most human beings have. If we look at a few features or individual points which people find attractive and look at them seperately the outcome is really quite amusing. Lets take the idea of having a beautiful bronze sun tan. Other people see you as healthy and happy, they presume you are an outdoors, sporty, get up and go type of person, in general a healthy person. Where as in reality bronzed skin (which is not your natural colour) is unhealthy regardless of how careful you were in obtaining it. We all know the dangers of the sun but still between 380,000 and 500,000 cases of skin cancer are reported every year according to The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (http.//www.asds.net.org/scfactsheet.html). But yet we still lie out there unprotected day after day in the hope of achieving that beautiful bronzed look so as we might be seen to be happy and healthy, and so, be accepted by society. Now lets look at being overweight and how people feel when they see overweight people. I think most of you will agree that laziness, lack of self control, lack of discipline maybe even lack of self respect are connected with being overweight. As an employer you wouldn't want someone like that on your team and as a person you probably wouldn't accept someone like that into you circle of friends. So to avoid being rejected by society we desperately try to shed the connection with laziness and lack of discipline and become that controlled, confident, energetic size 10, we diet. This need to loose weight had made the diet business fat and healthy. Revenues in this industry have grown from an estimated $100 million in the 1950's to $50 billion in the 1990's (http.//nm-server.jrn.columbia.edu/projects/masters/bodyimage/commodity/diet_page1.html) and are estimated to keep growing. Weight Watchers, the industry leader, estimates that it will make $87 million in 2000. With the amount of money we are ploughing into this industry you would think it really works. But diet failure rates hover between 90 and 95% according to Jeanine Cogan, a congressional science fellow for the American Psychological Association. Strange how we never get to hear these results! "The reason [the companies] aren't disclosing success rates is because they are bleak", says Allan Gelibter who treats obesity and eating disordersm at St. Luke's - Roosevelt Hospital in New York. From personal experience I can see that people perceive you differently when you are overweight. I lost over two stone just before Christmas and have noticed an amazing difference both in the work place and in a social scene. People take more time to listen to me, they seem more attentive and are generally a lot more interested in me. I haven't changed at all, I'm still the same person but since I became closer to the image which is classed as attractive or ideal, all of a sudden I'm a nicer, more interesting, funnier person! I read this book called "Succulent Wild Woman" by Sark a few years ago and she wrote a little story about a friend of hers who had began to walk backwards out of the bedroom so as her new lover wouldn't see her cellulite. Then one day she stopped and said "These are my thighs. I have cellulite. Take it or leave it." Her lover replied, "what's cellulite?" Oh how refreshing it would be to be with someone who knows nothing of these things. Another little line she wrote which I thouhgt was amusing is "I also think that if we could get cellulite put onto Barbie dolls, it would help a lot with self acceptance". But we all know we are very far from the day where anything but the perfect image sells.
-- Anonymous, April 03, 2000
Freya Thomspon 9707742T email@example.com
I could'nt agree more with you. There is this pressure to look like a thin waif. There are numerous reprocussions of societies current lifestyle. For example, I read an article the other day about the plight of obese teens in Australia today. Which they put down to the television/video game era.
The pity about it is that the parents buy these contraptions and then start making comments to their children about their weight and being lazy. I've seen it happen and can guess what implications that has. It gives teens mixed signals! Who's fault is it that so many teens are now overweight and suffering from severe lack of confidence, particularly in concerns to body image?
Society creates these problems. "To lose confidence in one's body is to lose confidence in oneself" - Simone De Beavcou Society teaches us at a young age that girls are "supposed to be sleek, slender and slim and men are supposed to be bulky, muscular and trim" as one editorial so elequently put it. If you do not fit into this stereotype then society punishes you. People who are overweight are made to feel guilty! Yes, its unfair, but I myself have been an offender, and challenge any-one to say they have never discriminated against the overweight.
To make things worse, just imagine what that does to an already damaged confidence! My mother is extremely overweight and I am proud of her, but I see people look, and believe me she does too. She gets quite upset about it, and the result of depression is a binge that only makes her more guilty later. It really is a vicious cycle for people who are unhappy with their bodies. The same thing applies to the extremely thin too!
Big is beautiful in some countries. But in many this isn't the case, and the pressure is on, as you pointed out to be that toned, trim person and portray perfection.
We all know the impacts of bad body image and the goal for this perfection - eating disorders, teen suicide, drug use, diets, even high youth unemployment.
The impacts of good body image? Society rewards good bodies, minds, and faces. We want the package! We want perfection! We want every-one to be like those images portrayed in advertising! Models with plastic parts, and personal trainers, who feel good about themselves because they are told every-day how beautiful they are and are paid well to be that way. It's amazing what a bit of positive reinforcement can do!
We all have bits we don't like. It's hard not to want to be perfect. But "it's easier to believe that bad stuff", as Julia Roberts put it in Pretty Woman. Body Image is all in the mind. I believe if you feel good, you look good!
-- Anonymous, March 18, 2000
Freya, recently commented on the area of cosmetic surgery. I too came across the same article she mentioned and would like to add a few more points on the subject. As pointed out by the others who have contributed to this workbook, it seems that society has a big part in the way we view our bodies. We are constantly being told that thin is beautiful. This is evident in any fashion magazine or television show that we look at. Therefore in the quest to obtain a perfect, flawless body many more are seeing cosmetic surgery as a way of achieving these things.
Many years ago, cosmetic surgery was something that was practiced only by the rich and famous, it was surrounded in secrecy and never talked about. However in her article titled The Body Business, Elisabeth King states that no longer is this practice set-aside for one class only. Furthermore it is now openly discussed and is considered just another lifestyle option. According to Elizabeth King, the underlying factor that has brought about the boom in this industry is that we live in a society that is obsessed with youth and the perfection that comes with being young.
Simone brings up the point that body image is a bigger issue amongst females than males. This point is the highlighted with regards to the cosmetic surgery industry, whereby Psychologist Dr Elizabeth Rona states that 75% of the female patients have some sort of body image problem such as obsession with their weight. She points out that almost all of them have had some form of plastic surgery and sometimes the obsession has been with the smallest most insignificant details.
From a personal point of view, I would have to say that I find it alarming that there has been such a boom in an industry that is so risky and dangerous. Although the dangers associated with different types of cosmetic surgery is well documented. It seems that for some, the desire to look perfect is so great that they are willing to put up with the weeks and even months of pain that are associated with various cosmetic surgery procedures.
-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000
It is rather common knowledge the effect of body image pressures can have and can often lead too. Issues may often simply be insecurities and lack of confidence which alters ones lifestyle, however, it can also lead to the well-known likes of eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, which is a concern of mine. As stated previously, they are well-known and not only effect females, and now many males. Statistics vary, among teenage girls, and effects between 1% and 2%, now increasing. Bulimia effects those from their late teens on as great as 1/6th of tertiary students. Approx 5% of suffers of Anorexia are male, with a higher instance among males.
Causes of these diseases remains disputed, with biological, psychological and social factors all involved. A lot mention the media (as I commented on the other day) stereotyping fat people in negative manner, however this is not the soul cause. Personal life crises, such as changes during adolescence, breakdowns of relationships, childbirth or death of a loved one can all impact. As can fear of the responsibilities of adulthood or a belief that love from family and friends is dependent on high achievement. Biological causes, such as chemical or hormonal imbalances perhaps associated with adolescence growth can attribute to this ever-growing problem.
Most aware of the definition of this disease, loss of at least 15% body weight, intense fear of becoming fat and of losing control of eating, excessive exercise, but also the major one is a disturbance of perception of body image.
Another noteworthy point was mentioned the other day, that being cosmetic surgery. The lengths that a lot of women (of course its not solely women) go to is amazing. Personally I dont see how its necessary, but of course that is my opinion. I do agree with a person having facial deformities and having them corrected, however doing it for other reasons (to meet an ideal image for example) isnt necessary. I have a friend, stunningly beautiful in every way, and happy to boot, who wanted to have her breasts enlarged I could not understand it! Of course the levels of cosmetic surgery do vary between the sexes and between countries ever so greatly I guess its each to their own.
Just on a final note, I do have to commend Daniel on his thoughts regarding his mother and his final note was certainly true.
-- Anonymous, March 24, 2000
Most people have been commenting on the affect of the media and advertising on womens body image. After reading Michelles comment In recent times we have seen the tables turn with males also becoming the sex objects, I thought I would focus on body image and men. I guess I shouldnt have been surprised on how little material I could find, considering how the subject doesnt get much attention.
What I did find could be categorised into two areas. The first was men and eating disorders. What I found was that people usually develop eating disorders as a way of coping with intense feelings and emotions. Therefore it shouldnt be a surprise that men develop eating disorders. Approximately 10% of eating disorder sufferers are men. These numbers are lower than for women for several reasons. Firstly, it is difficult for men to ask for help because eating disorders are still very much considered a "women's disease". Secondly, it is more common for men to try and cope with their problems by becoming workaholics or turning to alcohol and drugs.
The second area I researched was advertising and men. Advertising agencies are using men to sell products remember Marky Mark in the Calvin Klein ads? One agency stated that the male torso reigns as the decade's most powerful "crossover image", appealing to men, women, gays, and straights alike. http://alert.infoplease.com/spot/mbi1.html As men become more body-conscious, particularly through advertising, men are acquiring problems formerly associated with women: eating disorders, body obsessions, low physical self-esteem. One body-image study found that 45 percent of men were dissatisfied with their physiques; women were only slightly less satisfied at 55 percent. It would be interesting to study this in another few years (after approximately a decade of seeing men as sex objects in the media) to see if the figures for men and women were equal.
-- Anonymous, March 24, 2000
Having already talked about and read your responses to the relationship between body image and self-esteem, I thought I would take a more in-depth look at society's expectations of what we should look like and more importantly, ask WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT?
It is pretty obvious from the on-line discussion we have been participating in that most of us, if not all of us, don't agree with the perceived body image we think society pressures us to try and achieve. Even the research we have conducted, confirms that the general public don't seem to agree with this expectation or think it is even possible to attain such mythical figures, for both males and females. As Michelle stated, a lot of our body shapes are determined by genetics, something we have no control over (yet!!). But what I am more interested in, is what are we doing to change this perception of how we ought to look so that it matches ours and society's true beliefs? And why don't the two perceptions match?
Overall, I don't think enough IS being done about these 'unreal' expectations society puts on us, but it was encouraging to find at least 3 examples of some positive work towards re-educating society on what is considered normal, healthy and totally acceptable.
In a recent newspaper article "Dealing diets a body blow", radio broadcaster Kerryn Marlow speaks about how she is tired of seeing women portrayed as 'size eight waifs'. She mentions her concern about the effect society's view is having on children. Young girls are growing up thinking they have to be thin to be successful and young boys thinking they have to be comparable to Arnold Schwarnegger (I have no idea how to spell his surname!!). The refreshing angle to this article, however, is the fact that this woman is actively trying to do something about it. Firstly, she produced a radio segment on body image and health in an attempt to re-educate people about sensible eating habits and promote a more practical body image. She is now continuing her crusade by launching an on-line magazine. I think this is what we need more of to re-establish our focal point on good nutrition, healthy lifestyles and more sensible body sizes!
Both Freya's and Michelle's comments on today's lifestyle of fast food and tv/computer games also interested me. Modern Life's recent look at "Parenting: Puppy Fat" reports that approximately 20% of Australian children are obese, with the numbers growing every year. It then goes on to give parents constructive advice on how to re-instate good eating habits, how to re-instill self-esteem in their children, and increase physical activity in a regular domestic setting. The author, Paula Goodyer, suggests that families need to find time to play more - 'goof around in the backyard', visit the park and play ball instead of using the tv as a convenient source of entertainment for the children whilst parents are busy caught up in their hectic schedules. She also talks about the 'evils' of junk food and gave some healthy alternatives: "most children like fruit - you just have to think about how to deliver it". I liked the article because it talked about regular, every-day life, not something elusive and far-fetched, and provided some good advise on how to promote a healthy outlook on body image and healthy living for children.
Finally, I just wanted to mention about the gym I have recently joined. Although my main reason for joining was to lose some weight, not once has weight ever been of concern to the instructors. They have always promoted the importance of good health and the stressed the importance of regular physical exercise and good nutrition. This really stood out for me because I expected weight and body fat to be the main issue at a place like a gym but was pleasantly surprised by their healthy attitude. My outlook, as a result, has also changed and now I visit the gym for positive reasons not negative ones.
-- Anonymous, March 24, 2000
I have found the discussions about body image very interesting, and have noticed that a few key topics have stood out, and I would like to comment on these.
I agree with those who have found that media and society have a large impact on body image. Advertisements were discussed - that women are used to sell products. A week or two ago on Fox FM there were many callers talking about the Windsor Smith advertisement that has been posted on billboards all over Melbourne. For those who may not have seen it, it shows a women sitting down, legs apart, wearing VERY revealing clothes with a man (wearing Windsor Smith shoes) standing beside her. The majority of female callers were very opposed to the ad, saying it exploited females. The ad was also likened to the Diet Coke ads. Later the same afternoon (some seven hours later) calls about the ad were still being received - it was a great promotion for Windsor Smith if nothing else. I don't entirely agree with the ad, but then I don't really agree with the Diet Coke ads either. The product that is being sold doesn't have anything to do with sex appeal or body image, so why use that as a selling point? The answer to this (I think) is that it grabs people attention, it creates discussions, and therefore the product becomes well known.
Men and body image has been another topic commented on by a few people. Although women are more affected by body image and by what the 'ideal' body is, I think that this is an issue which is increasingly affecting men. I agree with Kirsty's comment that men want to be bigger and more toned. Atlhough most people who have an eating disorder are women, the number of men who have anorexia or bulimia is on the rise. I also think that while not a lot is being done to promote a healthy body image for women, even less is being done for men. They generally do not have anyone to talk to if they have problems accepting their body, whereas women at least have their friends to talk to.
In the Sunday Herald Sun Sunday Magazine, there was an article featuring a 54 year old woman who has spent $91,050 on 55 plastic surgery procedures. I must admit, that she does not look 54 at all (more like 34), but we all age, and as a result of aging we change. This does not mean the changes are worse, sometimes they may be better, but ultimately it is how we perceive those changes that matters.
-- Anonymous, March 26, 2000
Well, sorry I am late in entering - I have bored enough people of my online difficulties!!!! Anyway...
I started with looking at the aticle in The Goodweekend Magazine, (he Saturday Age, 04 03 00, p.. 20-26).
Some interesting thoughts that have been picked up by others as well. It intrigues me that the concept of a women's place/success in society is constantly revolving around her image (particulariy body). Under this pretext, it can be understood to relate to the common reduction of womens image to that of goddess or whore. Yet, this is not wholly the construct of male society - this is something that mothers/daughters also participate in - although often in more subtle ways. The concept of mother and the effects of her own body image (and therefore that which is projected onto her daughter)can be seen to have defining effects. This is one of the points of the article. I think that it is an important distinction to make that the notion of body image has more than just to do with sex - it is a way in which (potentially)we are judged and judge others. Yes, it is concerning - why are we so entrenched within in? In theory whenever someone implies that the image of a woman (as valuable, intelligent, sence of worth, successful, etc.) should be in any way dependant on her physical appearence, I am up in arms! Yet, it is the problem of such visual dependance that I am too susceptible in making assumptions about people based upon essentially nothing!
-- Anonymous, March 27, 2000
Just a couple of thoughts... Has anyone read the articles in Monday (27 March 2000) AGE, the Opinion Section - "How the Material Girl Became Material Icon" and in the Today Section "Sex and the Sage". Both of these were written by the same woman, Joan Smith.
I bring these up as they are very related in the notions of media and image that many of us are looking at. What I find interesting here is how the image beautiful, as described in the Good Weekend article (implying that life is easier if you are slim and pretty) can actually also have the reverse connotations depending upon the image of the person involved. The second article discusses Shere Hite who's problems with image are precisely that she is "willowy, gorgeous and apparently comfortable with her body...". For her, according to the article, this has done nothing but hinder her struggle to be taken seriously academically. She finds herself seemingly punished in the world, considered a "self-promoting narcissist" when doing things that in a male counterpart would only be considered self-making and driven. The first article is about the transforming imagry that is Madonna. She is a product of the media anyway and in this latest incanation is considered to be a "real woman" because she is having babies and has "found herself a nice Englishman...". Interesting?
-- Anonymous, March 29, 2000
Responce to youth=slim=pretty=success
While I agree with Noe that people get ahead based on (nothing) that being their looks, I am also confident that there are soooo many different ideals on what beauty is that it is not a huge issue with regards to body Image. For instance the Jan issue of Marie Clare has an article about an African tribe that force feed their women because the bigger you are the more beutiful you are. While in 'our' culture we believe that the thinner the better, that view could one day change and skinny people are the ones that are discriminated against, not the large women. Also I believe that there is nothing wrong with admiring a beautiful person but you have truly grown up when you realize it is not in the least bit important.
-- Anonymous, April 12, 2000
Hi Ruth, I picked up on one small paragraph of your submission. It was the one stating that the "ideal" image for women is not a healthly or even a possible one to achieve. I believe the "ideal" image currently being portrayed is that of the tall, slender, bronzed, happy, confident, beautiful woman which is plastered all over the majority of beauty magazines. "Fashion magazines deliberately promote fantasy" says Mary Peacock, a consultant for Women.com, a web site for women. The image we the consumer get to see is just not reality. Camera people, lighting engineers, make-up artists all contribute to how "beautiful" the model appears in the picture. If the image does not turn out exactly how they want it to, well thats no big deal, they can just air-brush those slight bulges or colour over those tiny blemishes. It is so enoying to think that some of the population actually believe that these models are that perfect and if only they could loose those extra few pounds and have that breast job, they too could look that good! Personally I don't think the "ultra-thin, strung out, heroin chic appearance of models like Kate Moss" is that attractive, buy hey, who am I to comment I'm only your average woman!
-- Anonymous, March 27, 2000
I think we can all agree that the effects of body image can be negative and depressing. Both males and females can experience feelings of inadequacies heightened by the media and social conditioning.
But when it comes down to it, when and how does one decide that they are happy with themselves and their bodies? One method that has been incorporated into many gyms and weight loss programs is to relate body image to a healthy lifestyle. The healthy lifestyle involves looking into factors such as exercise, diet, working conditions, relaxation, etc and working out the best possible practice for the individual.
This can have numerous positive effects. Regardless of whether or not a person achieves the body they want, just the fact that they are working hard on maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, is sometimes enough to build confidence, in knowledge that they are doing all they can for their bodies. It can give people a newly found respect and understanding for their bodies.
For example, I joined a gym where they put me through a body/lifestyle restructure course. It started by giving up the cigarettes, which had began several years prior for image sake. Funnily enough, I didnt realise it, but now that the image was unnecessary the habit lingered. This is a form of body image that appeals to many adolescence. After giving up smoking I felt great, more confident, and secure in public places. The program has also encouraged me to exercise to some degree everyday, which can be hard work, however it really pays of. Regardless of my body shape, I feel happier with my body because I know that I am doing the best for it.
So next time you see a photograph of Kate Moss sun baking in her bikinis with a cigarette, and a gin & tonic, dont look and drool over that waist line, look through it, and I am sure youll see a very unhealthy girl.
-- Anonymous, March 28, 2000
Id like to reply to the comments made about men and how they are perceived to pay less attention to their body image than women do.
I agree with these thoughts that women do go to greater lengths to achieve that ideal look than what men do. The television and media give the general consensus that being tall and thin is preferred over any other look. However that the perception of the ideal image does change. Over the last few years particularly the in image for females has been perceived as the thinner you are the better you look. The attention that advertisers pay to the fitter slimmer look is quite ridiculous when you consider the broad range of female shapes and sizes.
Men I think are perceived as more laid back. They are more accepting of how they look. If men what a boost in their physical image they join a health club. If they dont, they sit back on the couch with a can of beer and watch footy. This may be true but I do think that this is changing somewhat. A lot of males now are getting into that whole image thing. The traditional taboo of male grooming is steadily surfacing. I came across an article a few days ago titled Blokes facing up to image which underlined the increasing percentage of men who were more likely to visit the salon than the local barber. I know this sounds like a small achievement in comparison to girls who visit salons every weekend and are on first name basis with the stylists but for us males this is a major accomplishment.
On the subject of hairstyles, a mention should also go out to all those bald men out there as well. The paranoia of men and their recieting hair lines has for many years been a scary thought even more so now that men are conscious about their image. To males it seems that its a thing that they have to deal with later on in middle age but really the loss of hair is apparent in males as early as their early twenties.
-- Anonymous, March 29, 2000
Its been claimed by many on this discussion page that men arent really too concerned about their body image. However, I am sure the discussion will move to another tangent if we consider gay men.
Not only should gay men be educated in the Arts, Music, and Fashion, they should be attractive. Have you ever heard somebody say that, All the gay guys are good looking The media portrayal of the typical homosexual can be deceptive. Many gay magazines, newspapers, books and films, portray the homosexual as a beautiful exhibit.
For these reasons and perhaps others such as insecurities, many gay men find body image a never-ending battle. The gay community generally takes on anything new and different. Perhaps because it is a very open minded community or simply the fact many want to impress, or gain attention. It has been noted (Outrage #12) here in Australia, that fashions generally start with the people who can afford them. As the fashions filter down into general stores, the gay community is one of the first groups to absorb them. This then followed by the ethnic community and lastly the typical Australian communityand yes I know this is a major stereotype/generalisation.
And I guess thats why our society perceives the gay image to be very effeminate and gay because, gay men can always be caught wearing something, perhaps a bit endogenous, a bit too tight or simply a bit different. But dont gasp too wide because in a few months your favorite store in main street will be stocking it.
-- Anonymous, March 29, 2000
Body image is a very powerful tool. It can manipulate people into beleiving a secret cycle of marketing and money hungry fools. Companies can make lots of money from creating an image that we as people follow like sheep. We think what is right and we think that is right because we are taught this and we have no choice than to believe it. Body image creates 90% of the worlds wealth. Food, clothing, exercise, and intellectual growth. Body image can refer to the shape, intensity, thought patterns and off course the personal characteristics that we want. All though I am not against this in anyway shape or form, but it it also the sole issue that courses 75% of the worlds hate, anger, suicides, lingo, death and emotional damage. It cannot be eliminated the people have grown up in it. Olympics, sport, health and off course human domination. Space exploration, wealth, medical break-throughs, engine technology and human traits are again all caused by body image. Human's hunger to grow and continue to show interest in it's ability to maximise our short time on the planet. That if all goes to plan will not exist in less than 80 years. According to todays elite scientists. But who is to know the truth. That is an issue that can be explored again and again. But the overall body image today is one that benefits the world as a whole and all though it is quite different in many regions (countries) in the world it has to be adopted and followed otherwise we will lose the fight against human civilisation. Every body has their own idea on the perfect body image all though statistics and money prove that there are particular people in the worldthathave top billing and people will listen, learn and follow their thoughts and characteristics.
From Dean Jason Burlock
-- Anonymous, March 30, 2000
Classmates I have found a website which provides great articles/info etc on a variety of issues including body image. The URL is http://www.suite101.com/ Follow links to Health/Women's Health. Just interesting to note that while some people have mentioned body image in relation to men, to get to the body image link you must travel through the women's health category.
From this website, you can travel to this page. http://about-face.org/resources/facts/bi.html The following quote is from the above URL and makes an interesting discussion point regarding women and body image.
"Women and girls are also consistently taught from an early age at their self-worth is largely dependent on how they look. The fact that women earn more money than men in only two job categories, those of modeling and prostitution serves to llustrate this point (Wolf, 1992)".
Are we therefore bound to be eternally conscious of our body image or is our will power strong enough to go outside the flock?
-- Anonymous, March 30, 2000
I looked up body image on the Google search engine and found an article which looked at how body image varies by race and culture (http://www.studentadvantage.com/article_story/1,1075,c5-i45-t0-a22642,00.html). This article suggests that white women are 'in response to the media and views of others, are harsh on themselves'. African-American and Latino cultures however tend to prefer 'roundness and voluptuousness'. I think that this is an illustration of the effect media has on us - white women would probably be more targeted by the media's portrayal of the 'ideal image' and I think this is reflected in what this article is saying.
There has been some discussion about what is being done to improve body image and promote the fact that the 'ideal' body is not so ideal. I would like to further comment on this.
Through reading all the discussions so far, it is clear that we all agree that the 'ideal' image of how women and men should look is unrealistic and can lead to dangerous behaviour (such as dieting, anorexia, bulimia). And I think we would also all agree that something needs to be done about this issue. But awareness isn't enough. This problem is getting worse - the media is using body image increasingly and this issue is affected more people - including younger people.
I think that we need to start with children and teenagers to improve the problem. We can't change the media - that will only change slowly over time, IF the consumers show that they want to look at 'normal' people who do have fat on their body, and not thin, unattainable figures.
I also wonder how many of us would say that although we know that the ideal image is false and unhealthy that we ignore it and are completely happy the way we are? I know that it still influences me. Although I don't really want to lose weight, I do exercise not only because it I want to be fit and healthy, but because I want to be more toned. And although people never said to me, 'You need to lose weight', or 'Gee you could use some exercise', they have noticed that I have been doing exercise, and that does feel good - to have people notice. I think that all of us would still be affected in some way by the 'ideal body image'. From what I have read and heard, even models are affected by this issue.
-- Anonymous, March 30, 2000
I haven't placed my opinion prior to today as I am still in two minds where I as an individual stand in the whole body-image debate. My response to Kerrie and to others on the issue of media and advertising exploiting the whole "ideal image" is one thing I am sure about. Being a finale year advertising student I see things slightly different to the majority of you. It is my belief and also what my studies have showed, is that it is not the advertising world who is forcing what the ideal person is upon us, it is society who is creating this ideal image. Advertising is a business where product need to be sold. And I will be honest when a see an average looking person in an advertisement, I think they could have used someone better looking and it would be more appealing. Statistics have showed advertising with better looking people result in higher sales. This is because society does not want to see an average person selling a product as it is the seen as an average product.When looking at it from the business perspective they give society what they want to see in order to make us feel good and go out and buy the product. However I do agree Windsor Smith was a disgrace, which is why they have been taken down.
After saying this I must explain what I believe is responsible for beauty/image "hung ups". And I have found in my research that I do not stand alone in this belief.
We are responsible for "most, not all" of our own image insecurities. The biggest enemy which we have as individuals is envy. Whenever we begin to doubt outselves it is after we have seen someone we admire, especially when we have admiration for someone elses beauty. This admiration quickly turns into Envy and discontent with ourselves.
Let me give an example: If you were in a room with people you considered not as phyically attractive as yourself, even if you are a voluptuous imagine they have a few extra kilos than youself. In this case you will feel proud in the room and you wont doubt your image. However if you are in the room with people who are lighter in weight or more attractive, you begin to become image conscious. This is because you are admiring what others in the room have and this can quicky turns to envy. The book "THE POWER OF BEAUTY" by Nancy Friday dedicates a lengthy section of the novel to "Envy, The dark side of beauty".
She quotes "The sorrow is that envy began with admiration. For a moment, there is the Ahhhhh! of seeing someone, something that catches our critical eye, mellowing it, warming us until reality bites, awakening us to, "Why that person and why not me?"
Much of this comes back to what Frya said in the beginning. Body image is all in the mind. If you feel good about yourself, you don't have to be envious of others, hence you create your own body-image and confidence so you carry yourself with pride
-- Anonymous, March 31, 2000
Last week I was talking to a teenage girl whos mother has sent her to Weight Watchers to lose 4 kilos. When I suggested to the mother that the girl really didnt need to lose weight, I received the reply of course she does - look at her. This was in a restaurant in front of a group of people! During our discussion we have covered body image and specific groups in society, such as men and women. In particular, Brendan opened up a new area that I hadnt thought of before body image and gay men. After my conversation about Weight Watchers, and watching the video in class, I thought I would concentrate on children and teenagers.
Unfortunately, there was some disturbing material out there, most of it from the US. Once common statistic I found in several places was this: Eighty percent of 10-year-old American girls have already been on a diet. Ruth stated that approximately 20% of Australian children are obese, with the numbers growing every year. I find this hard to comprehend because when I was a child I didnt take any notice of my weight until I was into my teens. Its a different world now for kids. Research suggests that a person's body image is determined by the time they are six years old. Maybe it is a result of the advertising now aimed at children and teenagers. Perhaps Jade would like to comment on this?
Psychologists say that between 60% and 80% of adolescent girls want to lose weight. A third to a half describe themselves as "fat" -- but only about 15% really are. So most female dieters arent overweight. They suffer the same obsession with weight as their mothers. http://womenswire.com/image/girlsdieting4.html
There are two kinds of young dieters: those who are actually fat, and those whose mothers have told them they are fat. Parents can affect their childrens perceived body image, and health, in various ways. They can force their kids onto low fat diets, even though they need about twice the fat of adults for their growth. Also, parents who control what their children eat end up with kids who arent able to regulate their food intake, and end up fatter. http://home.earthlink.net/~dawn_atkins/children.htm
I found all the articles very depressing. Most of them focussed on problems rather than solutions. If parents arent being educated on the issues then how will these trends change?
-- Anonymous, April 01, 2000
In my first discussion I talked about men also becoming sex objects in the 21st century and as Simone stated it was very hard to find information on the males perspective of body image.But following my events this last weekend I can definetly confirm men are now out there to be 'slabs of meat' for the ladies. I went to see 'Manpower' on saturday night at the Crown casino with a group of my girlfriends for a 21st birthday. I tell you what I have never seen so many screaming females in my life (aprox 700 per show).These men are the most recognised male performers in the world and make 3 million dollars a year getting their gear off and showing off there bodies. Manpower were fantastic and put on a great show but I must say when looking at the guys I can guarentee you that over half of them, if not all of them, have been at some stage on steroids. There body's are way past the natural muscular stage, and in order to be a member of manpower they have to match up to the other members of the group. This shows yet another pressure put on men to inhance their bodys. Just thought I would share this information with you all because I found it interesting to see the extent to which these men went to in order to build their bodies up and become members of manpower.
-- Anonymous, April 02, 2000
Was it totally bizarre to see MANPOWER? I think it would be so strange, especially as you say that the crowd was crazy!! The collision of body image and the sex industry is also an interesting way to consider this topic.... also I was thinking regarding what Michelle was saying regarding the discussions on Men's Body Image Discussions, some of the guys earlier on in this strand had some interesting points to make and wed addresses that may be of further interest to you.
Another thing that I was wanting to chat about was the consideration of where the concepts of the IDEAL BODY come from. As discussed in the lecture, there have been many varioations upon this theme and this concept of "the ideal" over time. Yes it is manipulated by media and common discussions and perceptions and yes, I agree to an extent with Jade in that it should be something that is incidental and of personal scrutiny. However, the concept of "acceptability" or of "beauty" (be that being thinner or heavier) is something that is not solely judged by ourselves but also not one that I think is only about envy. Here I agree with Kerrie's comment - "I also wonder how many of us would say that although we know that the ideal image is false and unhealthy that we ignore it abd are completely happy the way we are?"
-- Anonymous, April 04, 2000
I found the rest of everyones comments really interesting. Quite a few people have been discussing the topic of cosmetic surgery and how it related to body so I decided I would have a look on the internet and through other media sources such as magazines and newspapers to what I could find. What I did find was really astounding. The amount of imformation and advertising for cosmetic surgery is unbelievable. For example each week in the Sunday Herald Sun there is pages of advertsing articles on cosmetic surgery, nose jobs, breast enhancements and full face lifts. You think the way they are depicted that changing our bodies is becoming just a like a regular trip to the supermarket. When I searched the internet I found just the same, I used the search engine dogpile and when I put in the topic of cosmetic surgery it came up with thousands of sites on what type of surgery, where you can it done and much it costs. However, I disapponinted to find that there where few sites that discussed what a serious move cosmetic surgery and the risks of surgery. I understand it is important for there to be a wide range of information on the topic, but I think things have gone too far now. Maybe if there was less advertsing and information about cosmetis surgery that people would not feel that it just like buying a new piece of clothing. Some people feel they need cosmetic surgery too feel confident about their bodies. I think it is really sad that people have to surgical enhance their bodies to feel good about themselves. Like many other people have written, I feel that if feel good about yourself on the inside than you will l
-- Anonymous, April 06, 2000
I noticed how others have commented on how a women's place in society revolves around their image. The discussions brought up the point of how body image is often associated with success. In her article The new meaning of thin Judith Ronin too highlights this point. She also states that the past decade saw a shift in body shape from thin to finely toned and muscled. The 90s also saw the emergence of the fitness craze as well as a push for a healthier lifestyle. However she states that this has done nothing for the way women see themselves and that they are still being judged and judge themselves by their body. The writer also states that we have come to believe that everyone who exercises can achieve a fit body provided we put the effort in. However she also asks whether we have been led to believe that we can control more than we actually can. The example is given whereby the female body ...is genetically programmed to have a fairly high proportion of fat ... however this no fat look of the aerobics instructor reflects a standard that many women will be unable to reach
Ronin also states that being thin and fit is a metaphor for success in todays society and working towards a perfect body represents the values that society holds as important. This is thought to be brought on by the fact that women still believe that changing their body shape is the most accessible form of accomplishment that is under our control.
It is thought that society is very intolerant of those who do not meet a set standard of beauty. Ronin states that, people tend to be more ashamed when they have a physical problem that they think they should be able to control for example their weight. Another reason why weight is thought to equal success is because losing weight can be a real challenge and unlike things such as a new job or promotion the effects of losing weight can be visible and valued. Ronin concludes that with the issue of weight, we tend to wear our success.
Therefore, regardless of whether people value, accept or change their bodies. The most important step is that they must learn to change their way of thinking and begin to treat their bodies with respect. Proper and controlled exercise and better diets are far better than starvation techniques and other drastic weight loss measures that have been highlighted in other discussions in this workbook. Only then will the body respond better.
-- Anonymous, April 06, 2000
I have found it interesting reading everyones recent comments. I must agree totally with what Shyamilas closing comments of proper and controlled exercise and better diets are far better than starvation techniques. On my latest readings into teenage dieting (both males and females) this has been a key point. In my last comments I stated most, not all body image problems where due to envy. Now the exception from envy being the cause of image problems is our upbringing circumstances. Primarily being our parents influence.
The other day I over heard a conversation between my 13 year old brother and Dad. My brother was getting a lecture on his diet as that was the reasoning why he has ugly pimples. I intervened as I thought this could not do much for the poor boys self confidence, I added, that I thought he was looking really cool. My fathers response was at least now he is caring about fashion and is developing a style for himself. In this case parents really can be the single force to create many of the image concerns of young people.
In relation to what Simone said about weight watchers. My mother made me go to watch watchers with her. They were not going to let me in as I was below the entrance weight. My mother managed to convince them I was going on it to help her loose weight. I only did it for a week and then went back to my normal eating habits that included lots of meat. As a result I often tell her to worry about her on weight and not mine. And dont like it when she comments on my appearance.
Just a finale note to Simone who asked my view on advertising being direct to children. I believe that parents have more to answer for, then advertising in regards to a child / teenagers body image. 6080% of adolescent girls want to loose weight but a whooping 42%, of 13 year old girls, regardless of size are currently on diets. According to Dietician Jenny ODea. It is a parents responsibility to teach their children to be comfortable with themselves if they are envious of advertising images they must also teach them to adopt a healthy and enjoyable eating habits from an early age. b
-- Anonymous, April 10, 2000
On a radio station I was listening to last week, they mentioned briefly about males and body image. What they were talking about was a condition called big arexia (or anorexia, not sure). This concerns guys who think they are too small and therefore need to bulk up. They went on to say that these guys were not vain and this condition was linked to anorexia. Examples of this they stated included, guys who take their tops off in nightclubs or spend too much time in front of the mirror. It seems to be that men want to get bigger while women want to get smaller. I wonder how, what or who etc can be attributed to these distinct dichotomy of tendencies. If we say it is the fault of media, advertising and so on, what would be the consequence if they provided messages that men should lose weight and women should gain weight? Would we believe them?
-- Anonymous, April 11, 2000
A lot of emphasis so far in the discussions has been directed towards the negative influence the media and related industries place on the body ideal. When it comes to body image nothing much changes. Even so, not everyone accepts this portrayal of beauty. The reasons for this could be for example, that all women come in various shapes and sizes or as they say the thinner the better.
Of course these thoughts do spark opposition. As I go through my sisters collection of Cleo magazines, in front of me I see various images of beauty. The reason why these images are put in the magazine is because they put across an idea or used as a selling tool. Recently I picked up an edition of Cleo magazine and looked at a few images of the ladies paying particular attention to the finer detail of the actual image. My aim was to try and pick image alteration. Looking at the larger images I couldnt see and sign of wrinkles, skin marks, freckles or anything like that. Every image seemed so perfect. I found this all to obvious. My point is, how can millions of girls (and guys) out there be suffering from low self esteem and eating disorders, striving to get themselves looking like their role model, when in affect its a computer image they are comparing themselves to. Of course the computer image is going to be perfect! The question remains what is being done about it. Ruth touched on this earlier and I believe that through proper education we may succeed in teaching younger people that body image is more of an issue to confront later on in life. This is at least more acceptable than knowing preteens are weight conscious.
Also I believe promoting a healthy body image a good thing. Whatever weight you are if you are eating well and getting some form of exercise you generally feel better about yourself. Ive taken a bit of my own advice lately and joined the local gymnasium, hopefully to get myself more active and health conscious. I can already feel the results.
Someone mentioned about the difficulty on trying to find resources on body image in relation to men, I second that.
Doing some internet browsing I found some interesting sites:
-- Anonymous, April 11, 2000
This discussion group has really pointed out how affected we are by media representation. Although we all seem to agree and rightly know what a crock this is and how totally unrealistic this is, we also all conceed that we are affected by it.
I do agree that parental roles are important in the inital formation of body image. Body image is tied up in overall issues of our self-esteem as people. Inevitably this is challenged, particularily through adolescence, through peer groups and media re[resentation. However, the fundamental building block of self-awareness and self-esteem are important to create early.
As lots of people have mentioned, I have recently joined a gym. This was a result of many things, particularily the fact that I had given up smoking. Initially I think that I did think that it would be a good idea to loose weight as well, but I have now gotten over that and use the gym as a tool for stress release (and we know we could all use that!!) and for general well-being. Since I have alivated the pressure of the body image as a goal, I truely have found that I am enjoying it much more.
Having found myself slightly on both sides of the weight spectrum at one time or another, I am quite skeptical of many things that the media put up regarding image of the body and its portrayal. As we have discussed previously, this, as with all other things, is a fashion issue and will turn around again and agian. This is not the danger, the danger is of those who's health and well-being suffer as a result of external pressures.
Just briefly in relation to comments regarding "women" magazine images, has anyone read the "Australian Magazine", the Weekend Australian, April 8-9 2000? There's an interesting article titled "Made to Measure". This discusses Cyndi Tebbel, who was editor of "New Woman" magazine and lost her position as a result of putting a size 16 model on the cover. When you think that the average size is 12-14, this is astounding that the advertisers though that this would be damaging to their campaigns. However, as the journalist (Rosalie Higson) states, "And while the world became saturated with images of unnaturally thin young white women and the fashion industry boomed, other enormously profitable industries rallied around to help women conform to that image - the cosmeticians, the low-fat advocates, the dieticians, the cosmentic surgeons, the personal trainers". Evidently Australia is high on the list of cosmetic surgery users, with 300,000 performed last year, compared with 400,000 in the US and 65,000 in Britian.
-- Anonymous, April 11, 2000
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Eleanor Roosevelt. Many respondents have mentioned parents and their role and educating their children about the issue of body image. Parents have left television to be the child's babysitter. Constant exposure to such a medium obviously has an impact in the way a child will view themself and what's around them. Without be able able to adequately interact with thier parents, children are seeking other sources of information. Researchers and even our discussion group has realised that children need tools for developing a healthy body image. The way they see their body is reflected in their self-esteem. Parents and guardians, can listen to their children, give information, be positive role models, foster healthy habits, discuss female/male stereotypes, and encourage them to be all they can be. All it takes is for parents to accept a greater responsibility in their child's upbringing. It's too late talking about the role of body image to teenager, adults or even the elderly. By our teen years, we have already formed perceptions of what satisfies us and so on. These laden values have accumulated since we were born and keeping transforming our perceptions. Although, it does not help a current generation to deal with issues relating to body image, improved parental responsibility (eg. training, letting them know of their impact as role models and so on) will help future generations deal with this issue.
-- Anonymous, April 12, 2000
I have been reading the comments on body image and how it can be influence by parents. I agree with Jade and Noe that parents play a large role in the development of their child's body image. I have a friend who is twenty-two and is still told by her mother that she should eat better food and exercise more. She is continually compared to her younger sister. I have never heard my friends mother say, gee you look really nice tonight. Instead she often says, you should go shopping with your sister to get some nicer clothes that suit you. The worse part of this, is that my friend is not overweight! And when I hear her talking about her body, I know that she really doesn't like her body. She wants to lose weight, and while I know she wouldn't diet or starve herself, she is still unhappy with her perfectly normal body weight.
-- Anonymous, April 12, 2000