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Body Image Research Paper

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 2719 words Published: 2nd May 2017

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Chris Browns Body Image has been a struggle women have been faced with for decades. Recently the fad has changed. Women have been drilled with media and the states of mind that only size zero women are beautiful. With the constant reminder of the “skinny fad” by models, actresses and other women famous in media women are reinforced of the world’s narrow view of beauty. This desire to be thin has driven many women to do drastic things to their body. There are many shocking statistics showing the amount of women in the world have done something negative to their bodies because they were not happy with them. Body Image has played a huge role in women’s lives and has changed through out time, causing women to have low self-esteem, which in some cases develops into eating and health disorders.

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Through out time society’s definition of “beauty” has changed drastically. In the early 1900’s women were praised for having voluptuous bodies; wide hips and large breasts were considered sexy. In 2008 that changed radically adult women were weighing between 90 and 110 pounds; a very unhealthy weight for a full-grown woman. What the worldviews as a beautiful woman is absolutely no body figure, basically the skin and bones look. This thin obsession began as early as the 1800’s. In 1840 Doctor Sylvester Graham announced that a diet was “the keys of health”(Wolchover 2012). Once women started realizing that others were starting to lose weight because of this fad every one else wanted to get in on it. Within the years of 1890 and 1920 women’s average body weight went from a voluptuous weight to where fat is pronounced gross by American society. Women have been faced with this issue only in recent years and the struggle to be at peace with their own body has become worse and worse. In previous ages women did not obsess about every calorie they eat and how much time they spend at the gym. The only mindset they had was to make their family and husbands happy. It all started when dressmakers and seamstresses starting making the average dress size a lot smaller. Women who did not fit into these smaller sizes started to find themselves at less worth and began obsessing over their weight and waistline (Wolchover, 2012).

Another factor in the change of women’s body figure had to do with the industrial revolution. When dress sizes started becoming standard sizes women became more aware of their size. Starting during the time of the revolution dresses started coming in specific sizes: Small, Medium and Large opposed to dresses coming in number sizes according to the height and width of a woman’s body. Also America was urbanizing around that time. That meant second-class women had more access to different varieties of food. Slowly this caused the average American to become overweight. In the early 1920’s the calorie was discovered. Along with that came the act of counting them as well as fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Soon after this discovery American started doing anything they could to start lose weight and burn calories. Soon after America discovered the act of dieting the weight scale was invented to put the final touches on Americans realizing their body mass. Due to this, in the late 1920’s, dieting and counting calories became a daily routine in the lives of Americans (Wolchover, 2012).

Another contributing factor to the change in beauty was the famous Twiggy. In her times the requirements in becoming a model were not as ridiculous and degrading as they are now. Twiggy was the ideal British model. She was thin, with gorgeous round eyes, long eyelashes, and most importantly her thin body figure. Twiggy is often the blame of the favoring in extremely thin model and appearances. Due to her naturally tiny frame and her great success as a model models in following generations often admire her. Her body figure set the standards for models to be in order to be “successful”. Even women who are not models are thriving to have a body like Twiggy. She was definitely an icon and narrowed the world’s view of beauty (Examiner.com).

Body Image and self-esteem issues are most common among teenage girls but it has occurred in all ages. The reason teenage girls are the biggest target for these issues is because they are the ones who get most caught up in modern media. Among many teenagers the desire to be “model thin” has driven them to go to extreme measures to obtain that image. Studies have shown that recent T.V. shows have focused on body figure and have been changing the self-esteem of girls as young as 5 (Hueback, 2006). Girls of this new generation are bombarded with images in media of celebrities and models that have this ridiculously thin figure, they feel they need to be the same to be beautiful and have the “Hollywood Shape”. Teens now feel like they have to live up to the American standards of what they should look like. Young girls look to these anorexic models and celebrities as role models because they appear to be happy with themselves and girls feel like they need to have the paper-thin look to be happy as well. Mothers also play a huge part in girl’s body image hundred percent of girls look to their mom as their role model and too often moms obsess over their weight so their daughters follow in their footsteps. Girls who grow up with brothers and dads who have a preference for thinner women are also victims of this issue. There is an overwhelming percentage of young girls who wear body hugging, midriff baring clothes that are envied by the girls who cant ant those girls are the ones who view themselves as ugly. The ones who wear the tight clothes are the ones who are viewed by the biased society as beautiful. A research in 2010 showed that 59% of girls are unhappy with their bodies. The average size that is desired by the 59% of Americans is 13-19% below healthy weight (Wolf, 2012). Media exposure has made the average young woman put appearance and physical appearance at the center of their mindset. It has made young women have a limited constrain on femininity. In the American mind thinness is now not only about physical appearance but success, self-control and higher socioeconomic status. Women acquire success through having the body they want because it requires work in the gym and eating right to acquire it. It symbolizes self-control because certain foods that are not healthy and being lazy and skipping the day at the gym is tempting but it shows that they can make it through those temptations to obtain the body the desire. Even young girls are obsessing over every calorie intake they consume and this issue is starting in girls as young as nine. That is one motivation for a good body weight. Low self-esteem among teenage girls has led to early sexual activity, substance abuse, and eating disorders and in some extreme cases suicide. 64% of all teens in America are unhappy with their physical appearance and weight. The average height and weight for an American woman is 5’4 and 140 pounds and the height and weight for an average model is 5’11 and 117 pounds. Self-Esteem is how much a person likes them selves and how they recognize and appreciate their individual character, qualities, skills, and accomplishments. Like body image, self-esteem is also base on how other people look at someone as a person. Good self-esteem helps keep a positive outlook on life and appreciate the person they are.

Women who are thin are often associated with strong, beautiful, independent, hard-working women and on the other hand women who are not are often associated with lazy, sloppy, weak women. More then usual that’s not the case. Some women are too busy to go to they gym everyday. Single moms for example are busy taking care of their kids and keeping them on track to worry about their own weight. In other cases women are content with their own body and don’t worry or care about what other people think and that is a perfect example of a strong woman. Often body image is how others think of them as a person not only physically.

When girls develop low self-esteem because of their weight and physical appearance, often these occurrences lead to eating and health disorders. This issue can also lead to other problems now common amongst teens, such as pressure into having early sexual activity. One out of every college student will develop an eating disorder before they graduate (Wolf, 2012). In this desperate attempt to be skinny women often drive themselves to depression and helplessness. The thought of dieting and exercising religiously has become a daily part of a woman’s life. A woman discontent with her body is the lead cause of women developing eating disorders. The main factor of eating disorders sparks from low self-esteem. Which also leads to substance abuse among teens. The factors that lead to teen substance abuse are teens thinking they are not “cool” enough because they are not as skinny as the popular girls so they think if they drink and abuse drugs they will be able to fit in with the others. Studies have shown that most of the girls that are diagnosed with eating or health disorders and low self-esteem are the ones who are exposed to media and the images of models and celebrities than opposed to ones who are not. This occurs within teens before college level (Wolchover, 2012). Americans on average spend more then 40 billion dollars a year on dieting and exercise products. In an average lifetime 50,000 people will die because of eating or health disorders based on body images (Wolf, 2012).

Many young girls are judged and even bullied about their weight if they don’t love up to certain standards. This judgment has lead to serious eating disorders among teens in America now. In some extreme cases it once of the main causes of suicide in American teens. Too often girls are obsessing over the fact to be at peace with their body and young girls even starting at the age of nine are going crazy over losing weight. Girls need to know that no matter what shape or size or color of their skin it does not matter because every single one of them is beautiful. In the bible Ecclesiastes 3:11 God says He has created everything beautiful in its way. No ones word can go against the word of God. Everyone who feels insecure needs to read that verse and realize no matter what anyone says it should not have any affect on them because GOD has made nothing that isn’t beautiful and that is literally all that matters. Anyone who is putting up with bullies, anything they say should go in one ear and out the other.

In recent years it is more common among humans to give criticism in a negative way towards other people. It has become a normal part of American life. Even among friends put-downs are normal conversation but sometimes it goes too far and the person on the other end takes it heart. Some become more offended then intended. For example when a group of girls are friends and one of the girls are bigger then the others in the group that one was insecure. Her insecurity would lead to self-harm in some cases that would cause them to go to extremes to feel like they fit in with their friends. This case has occurred more then it used to (JournalOfHealthPsychology).

Another insecurity that body image creates is depression. When girls are unhappy with what they see in the mirror it causes them to beat themselves up. Depressive symtomatology is one of the major affects caused by eating disorders. Girls torture themselves mentally by hating what they see in the mirror and hating themselves for what they see. Even a girl who is a size two will think she looks like a size eight and then wants to lose weight. People who work for big modeling agencies and works of that nature have stated “Being a size two is the new size eight” (Wolf, 2012). Food restriction has been associated with vulnerability (JournalOfHealthPsychology).

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Too often girls are often too harsh on themselves. They spend so much time judging themselves then actually going out and trying to change that. So many teenage girls are embarrassed or insecure about their bodies. Too often then not they are the ones beating them selves up for being a size 8 rather then being a size 2. Some of the time teenage girls are their own worst enemy. They put thoughts in their heads that they are not worth anything because their not ‘model thin’.

Another contributing factor to the body image crisis among American women is caused by the fashion industry (Anthony 2012). Each year during Fashion Week designers exhibit their designs through out a series of fashion shows. Each year the upcoming trends are displayed on skinner models then the years before. The usual waistline for the average American woman used to be a healthy fourteen now it shrunk dramatically to a size four. The ideal body image is presented to girls at a very young age. It can tart by what they choose to watch on television and how the girls look that act in them.

Another obsession girls are faced with is always looking perfect. They see models in magazines whose facial features are perfect and they want to look like them. Models that have their faces airbrushed and made to look perfect. A lot of models that appear in magazines and advertisement have their faces and morphed to look a specific way that the director wants them to look. A model for Ralph Lauren was a size four and because of her “weight problem” and was fired.

There is a positive way for women to lose weight. Women think by starving them selves they will reach the weight they want. It is a fact that eating healthy is better for you then not eating anything at all. Eating a donut for breakfast is healthier then not eating anything at all. Eating breakfast is the most important meal because it gets your metabolism going for their day. The most effective way to lose weight is to eat foods that are healthy for you and exercise daily. Women don’t always realize that there is a positive way to get rid of un wanted body fat. There are also treatments that speed up the process of losing weight. Women need to realize that starving themselves is not the only way to lose weight and there are other options to get rid of un-wanted body fat (Anthony, 2012).

Body image has been women’s struggle through out all of history. Most recently the struggle has been more outrageous. Women have been drilled with image of the media that the only way to feel beautiful is too be extremely and unhealthily skinny. The media has put the images in the average woman’s head by actresses, models, and other celebrities that have the extremely skinny look and appear “perfect” and happy. The obsession to be skinny has driven women to many drastic things to their bodies. Women have gone to extreme measures to obtain this thin appearance. Only they think beauty is only the Medias narrow opinion of it. Body image has played a huge role in the lives of women through out the years and with time, has changes, also causing women to have low self esteem issues and in some cases obtaining eating and health issues (Anthony 2012).

Body image is how girls see themselves and their self worth. Poor body image can lead to an unhealthy life style. Girls even at the young age of five can start facing insecurities about their body. The standards of how society views women as beautiful have changed through out the years. These problems often evolve from people picking on them and being blasted by the media that only woman who are a size two are considered beautiful. These issues cause depression and eating disorders among women and some extreme cases the criticism and self-hatred lead to suicide. The media is mostly to blame for these problems and what they say and portray beauty as. Body image has changed and played a role in women’s lives through out history, which has cause women to have low self-esteem, and in some cases leads to eating and health disorders.


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