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The concept on the perception of body image as an issue of concern was initially stimulated as early as 1935, by Paul Ferdinand, a renowned Austrian psychiatrist. He claimed that the mental perception of an individual towards his or her body explain the manner in which their bodies are introduced to them (Goswami, Sachdeva, and Sachdeva 168). Body image refers to a combination of views, thought, and outlooks about an individuals physical appearance ((Kamberg 16).This concept incorporate an individuals thoughts and feelings in regards to their weight, body shape and size, complexion color, height and largely the general appearance. The psychology development of body image is somehow complicated with many types of research supporting that it is influenced by an individuals mental perception and biology, in addition to the influence of peer groups, media, and the culture in the society that surrounds them ((Kamberg 87). In this case, two people may appear identical and have a very different perception of their body image due to these influences.
Students attend college to further their education level and chase career path. However, during the college years, they are confronted with traditional concepts of physical appearance and stereotypes regarding body image. Student especially the women during their early years in college, receive mixed information concerning their values as students and the importance of having the good physical appearance ((Duarte et.al.108). An individual's sense of self-esteem is mostly associated with their weight and body shape (Kamberg 48).To many students, the college life offers a multifaceted environment of a serious nature of academic curiosity and the pressure to conform to the expectations of the society. These expectations shape powerful forces that cause the student to describe themselves both mentally and physically. The pursuit for appreciation of a physical appearance explanation presents many problems, particularly to the female students who struggle to adapt to the contradictory views of beauty and self-image portrayed to the society predominantly by the media (El Ansari et al. 535).
Impact of Body Image
According to an inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, it is estimated that nearly 42% of girls and young women believe that the most negative features of being a female are the pressure to appear more attractive than other. Children, young adults, and adults with negative body image have lower self-esteem, and this is especially more common in females. It is alleged that the concept of body image issues and related consequences is more common in the western societal. However, due to the media influence, more diverse cultural groups are being impacted including the developing countries. The girls self-esteem in the western cultures is impacted significantly during middle adolescence, at a time in which most girls have joined college. The variations of the views of the girls body image are suggested to be the possible explanations. The girls body image development becomes vulnerable to the context of sociocultural influences, such as exaggerated media images of female beauty.
A research that involved 136 United Kingdom girls aged between 11 and 16 used experimental experimental magazine models lowered body satisfaction and consequently the self-esteem ((Clay, Vignoles, and Dittmar 441). Body image has become a crucial factor to explain the decline in self-esteem among adolescent girls. It plays a central role to the girls in middle adolescent in their self-definition, since they have been influenced to believe that appearances are important factor for self-assessment and evaluation by the society.
The number of women engaging in harmful, unhealthy behaviors to conform to ever growing and societal pressure concepts of body image has become of significant concern (Clay, Vignoles, and Dittmar 469). This is more evident especially on the college student. Irrespective of how the general definitions of physical attractiveness, many college women are tempted to conform to the media portrayal of beautiful body images (Clay, Vignoles, and Dittmar 470). The influence has extended to eating disorders behaviors, as a result of the idealism of slimness in the media. Girls incline to extreme physical exercise, to the extent of unhealthy practices, and embrace eating disorders in an attempt to have the desired body image. Some women may develop believes that the desired body image is a physical impossibilities, and therefore, these women may choose to neglect healthy lifestyles.
Students are vulnerable to unhealthy food choices during the college life. College presents the student with freedom to decide what to eat. They have more responsibilities and must learn how to conform to the society expectation. These combinations of increased expectations and societal pressure can result in unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical exercise. Women may become exposed to lower self-esteem and may be more psychologically and physically drained to pursue their desired lifestyles.
Changing the Issue of Body Image
Most research support that having a positive body image is a significant aspect of emotional wellbeing (King and Tsiantas 145). The research also holds that students with negative body image are less likely to engage in learning and are adversely affected academically. To change these issue colleges should come up with programs that offers body image lessons to help young adults better understand complex concepts of body image such as, understanding the biology of body size, eating behaviors and the impact of body image manipulation. While all the educations institutions have a statutory duty to uphold wellbeing among young people, they should also strive to understand and shape self-esteem while creating awareness of the importance a positive body image.
The government should also support psycho-educational initiatives organizations both at school and community level which raise awareness of body image. These organizations and others should concentrate on community discussion and interactive events, with the objective of appealing and educating children, young adults and adult about body image and promoting a more positive self-perception.
Body Image In Relation To Women's and Gender Studies
There is a close association between body image and the womens and gender studies. This concept is specifically true since women are the most affected. In the contemporary society, the issues of girls growing up in the settings of advanced mass consumer societies have significantly impacted the perception of their body image. The Women cannot escape the influence of the media as the key stakeholder, with the images of the ideal body image displayed allover on giant bill boards, magazine covers, and TV commercials.
King and Tsiantas (141), explain that the societal culture influences the eating behavior, the choices of clothes people wear, and the general lifestyle. The Western culture has a tendency of influencing women and girls to the unrealistic body image. They are constantly reminded that the body image determines their physical attractiveness.
Women experience societal pressure from sources such as parents, friends, and the media to develop certain body image. The Social comparison theory stresses the influence of comparing ones physical attractiveness to others (King and Tsiantas 141). Vulnerability to unrealistic body images has significantly affected the women as compared to men. However, there are more prevailing individual variables, reflecting social psychological progressions, which predict body image perception.
Clay, Daniel, Vivian L Vignoles, and Helga Dittmar. Body Image and Self-Esteem Among Adolescent Girls : Testing the Influence of Sociocultural Factors. 15.4 (2005): 451477. Print.
Duarte, C. et al. Body Image and College Womens Quality of Life: The Importance of Being Self-Compassionate. Journal of Health Psychology 20.6 (2015): 754764. Web
El Ansari, Walid et al. How Do I Look? Body Image Perceptions among University Students from England and Denmark. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 7.2 (2010): 583595. Web.
Goswami, S., Sachdeva, S., & Sachdeva, R. (2012). Body image satisfaction among female college students. Industrial Psychiatry Journal, 21(2), 16872. http://doi.org/10.4103/0972-6748.119653
Kamberg, Mary-Lane. Women: Body Image and Self-Esteem. New York: Rosen Pub, 2013. Internet resource.
King, N., & Tsiantas, G. Similarities in Body Image in Sisters: The Role of Sociocultural internalization and Social Comparison. The Eating Disorder Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 9 .2(2001), 141-158. Web
Reflections of Body Image. Toronto, Ont.: Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, 2013. Http://www.bodyimage.org.uk/. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image and Central YMCA. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.
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