Body Image of Women in America Essay

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Eleven million women in the United States suffer from eating disorders - either self-induced semi-starvation (anorexia nervosa) or a cycle of bingeing and purging with laxatives, self-induced vomiting, or excessive exercise (bulimia nervosa) (Dunn, 1992). Many eating disorder specialists agree that chronic dieting is a direct consequence of the social pressure on American females to achieve a nearly impossible thinness. The media has been denounced for upholding and perhaps even creating the emaciated standard of beauty by which females are taught from childhood to judge the worth of their own bodies (Stephens & Hill, 1994). To explore the broader context of this controversial issue, this paper draws upon several aspects on how the media …show more content…
Gender related differences in acceptable body size are shaped from a variety of societal definitions of appealing shapes for males and females.

Patterns of body dissatisfaction formed in childhood and adolescence persist into adulthood and are most prevalent in females. In their study, Fallon and Rozin (1985) reported that college women perceive their figure to be heavier than the figure they identified as the most attractive to themselves (Lavine, Sweeney, & Wagener, 1999). Females experience a large discrepancy with food. On one hand, food is depicted as a reward or indulgence, or as a way of socializing. On the other hand, women are supposed to be fit and thin, which is difficult to accomplish if females indulge in the large repertoire of food (Stuhldreher & William, 1999). The diet-obsessive mind of advertising in many women’s magazines provides a sharp contrast to the hedonistic view toward food. In several magazines, even the food advertisements focus more on dieting than on quality of food. Thus there are clear and quite strict limits on the degree to which American females may attempt to satisfy their hedonistic impulses toward food (Lennon, Lillethun, & Backland, 1999). Societal standards of beauty change dramatically over time. Today the body ideal is to be thin. However, this has not always been the case. In the 19th century large women were thought of as the image of beauty. The body ideal in the 1920’s was similar to

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