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Body image and gender - Essay Example

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One constructs this image through a complicated mixture of the observation of oneself, others' reaction to one's body, as well as through memories of comments made by parental and other authoritative figures in the past. The dissatisfaction with this image is often called body image disturbance (2005) and is often measured as degree of body dissatisfaction (Lokken, et al. 2003) or cathexis, which is defined as the degree of satisfaction with one's body (Frost & McKelvie). Many who study it consider it a problem that has been growing in both men and women over the past two-and-a-half decades. However, it has been shown that women exhibit an overwhelmingly greater tendency toward a negative body image. They show this behavior to a much higher degree and on a numerically wider scale than men do (Lokken, et al., 2003; Frost & McKelvie, 2004; Lowery et al., 2005).
Lowery, et al (2005) cite research that a greater portion of women harbor unpleasant feelings when they consider their bodies, and that women's ideal body figures are often more widely different from the way they perceive their own bodies. Furnham, Badmin, and Sneade (2002) and Rinderknecht and Smith (2002) carried out research that resulted in findings similar to these. In fact, the Furnham, et al. study showed that three times as many men as women desire to have a body image that was widely different from their current perception of themselves. Cash et al. (2004) allude to research indicating that women's body image disturbance has increased between 1966 and 1996, but that no significant change has been demonstrated in that of men. A possible reason for this is seen in research by Hoyt and Kogan (2001). They point out that body image is generally associated with psychological, sociological, as well as physiological influences, and it is understood that the pressures for women to be attractive are greater than those that push men toward attractiveness. Such pressures include societal ideals (which have been changing over the years) and men's general unwillingness to enter relationships with women they perceive as unattractive.
Especially in college, it has proven to be the trend that women strive for a more slender figure and a lighter body weight, more so than their male counterparts (Cash, et al, 2004; Hoyt & Kogan, 2001; Furnham, Badmin, and Sneade, 2002). Yet one longitudinal study cited by Cash et al., which occurred over a 15-year period from 1983 to 1998, offered results that shown no significant increase in body image satisfaction for men or women over the period. Another longitudinal study cited by Cash and his team employed a nine-figure silhouette scale. It revealed that some women who while in college had had negative body images, after ten years and only a 4-lb average weight gain, reported higher levels of body image satisfaction than a group of men who had over the period gained an average of 12 lbs. This result differed from that of most research, though it might be inferred that the reason those women were able to keep the low weights was that they were concerned with their body image. Other research tended also to reveal that while some men express a desire to decrease their body weight, others express the desire to increase it (Lokken, et al. 2003; ...Show more


In our current society it has, especially for women, become the norm to be dissatisfied with one's body and to exhibit an antagonistic relationship with food. This phenomenon has been termed a normative discontent by specialists who study eating disorders (Lowery, et al., 2005; Hoyt & Kogan, 2001)…
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Body image and gender essay example
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