Women, Men, Beauty and their Bodies – The warped body-image

Ever hear the little voice inside you say, “Uhh! I hate being fat”, or “My butt’s so big it could cover the earth?” Or ever hear a sharp critique from friends or family, “You’re pretty, but you gotta lose some weight”.

What do you see when you see in the mirror? Are you not seeing the tight-bodied “ideal woman” on COSMO or GLAMOUR, or the Greek God-esque “ideal man” on Men’s Health? You don’t  feel you’re a “tall, thin” attractive woman with a “tubular” body? You don’t feel you have those chiseled 8-pack abs? Do you find yourself comparing your bodies to your perfect-curvy peers? Well, you’re not alone! Apparently only 4% of the women worldwide think that they are beautiful, so what are the rest 96% thinking?

Of course, the big issue is that the image of women and men projected on entertainment magazines are most often NOT REAL!  They are photoshopped and here’s proof:

The attempt however, is not to blame the media for thrusting inaccurate and unattainable images of women and men down our depressed throats! In fact, some companies have taken steps to address the warped perception of beauty!  Dove launched their Real Beauty campaign in 2004 and featured real women in their ads. Celebrities like Beyonce worked with H&M to ensure she was not photoshopped in the Summer 2013 ads.

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In comparison, there are many other companies that have reinforced negative body image, or thin-is-ideal image. Victoria’s Secret’s Love My Body campaign was a real dud we must say!

There are many other factors that reinforce negative body image in men and women. And our attempt here is to highlight the magnanimity of the issue.

It’s more common than you think! Did you know 1 in 5 women struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating? And 90% of those women were in the young age of 12 and 25! Apparently 14 million Americans and an overwhelming 70 million worldwide suffer from eating disorders. A warped body image may have a lot to do with it. According to Garner et al, dissatisfaction about body image may lead to harmful eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa.

Both men and women are effected! The prevalence of eating disorders is 14% among adolescent females compared to 6.5% in adolescent males.

And kids are at risk too! Unfortunately eating disorders affect kids early. 81% of the 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. Parental comments about a kid’s appearance does negatively affect their perceptions about their bodies. In fact, parental influence is regarded a primary influence on a child’s body image, as is peer comparison. With parental opinions being similar to what’s hammered in the media, no wonder kids learn early that thin is ideal. Vonderen and Kinnally found significant correlation between media and both internalization of the thin ideal and body dissatisfaction; the study also found that the knowledge should be applied to eating disorder prevention / intervention and media literacy campaigns to help attenuate the negative effects.

Eating disorders are dangerous! Eating disorders are more prevalent in the US than breast cancer, HIV, and schizophrenia – and yes this is serious! Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. Eating disorders can have serious and irreversible consequences.

When we hear about celebrities such as Ke$sha, Portia De Rossi, Katherine McPhee etc their battle with eating disorders it helps us realize that no one is immune. What helps is an open discussion about these issues. And on the brighter side, recovery is possible, knowledge and treatment help.

What caught our attention this week was this inspiring video from SoulPancake. It’s a touching video with women gathered around the table discussing how their body images came about and how they have evolved.  Don’t miss the last 5 minutes, because you will leave inspired today!

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