The Effects Of Body Image In Different Cultures

1138 words - 5 pages

The Effects of Body Image in Different Cultures


In every society, people use their appearance as a way to express their social relationships. Applying makeup, adding or removing clothing, building muscles, or piercing various parts of the body are examples of how people try to change their appearance in order to fit in, or in some cases, to stick out. In suburban America, girls struggle to reach the goal of a Barbie-doll figure, whereas in Jamaica, it is more desirable, and socially accepted, to be fat. American women use makeup to express feelings and moods while Bedouin women use tattoos as a means to reveal their personalities. Contemporary Western culture sees the body as an object that is separate from the self, while many other societies see a person as an integration of the mind, body, and spirit. By studying the effects of body image in a few different cultures, a new understanding is given to the reasons why people describe, perceive, appreciate, and alter their bodies as they do.
In suburban America, teenage girls starve themselves while in Jamaica, a larger body size is what is valued. Socially dominant individuals who are enmeshed in sound relationships are usually large and bigness tends to ensure reproductive success and survival in times of scarcity. All in all, plumpness is generally considered attractive. Such is the case in many of the West African societies from which people were taken to Jamaica as slaves. In these societies, those who can afford to do so seclude their adolescent girls in special "fattening rooms" and, after a period of ritual education and heavy eating, the girls emerge fat and attractive. Weight loss signals social neglect in Jamaica, and instead of congratulations for a noticeable "drop-in-the-pounds", one wonders about the sorts of life stresses that have caused such an event. Fatness is associated with moistness, fertility, and kindness, as well as with happiness, vitality, and bodily health in general. "Fatness connotes fullness and juicy ripeness, like that of a ripe fruit well sweet and soon to burst" (Sault, p. 137). Diet foods and beverages are only seen in bigger towns and assumed to be meant for diabetics because no one should wish to be thin; quite a drastic difference in attitudes from that of the American ideal.
In a study done with 42 college students in Iran and 53 college students in the U.S., the Iranians scored reliably higher on a Body Self Esteem Scale (Akiba, p. 539). Those with little or no access to westernized media perceived themselves on a more positive level and were less likely to have eating disorders as well. Whether it is the media to blame, or the culture as a whole, is definitely a question not easily answered.
In America, television programs present slender women as the dominant image of popularity, success, and happiness. One in every eleven commercials includes a direct message about beauty, which are almost exclusively directed toward women...

Find Another Essay On The Effects of Body Image in Different Cultures

The Effect of Media on Body Image in Teenagers

1197 words - 5 pages The way one perceives his or her own physical appearance is known as body image. This positive or negative connotation is determined by what he or she sees in the mirror everyday, depending on personal feelings about height, weight, and body type (Kramer). According to Gerri Freid Kramer, “Many teenagers center a large part of their self-image on the way their body looks.” The main reason behind this is because today’s society creates a high

The Effects of Media on the Body-Image of Preadolescent Girls

2109 words - 8 pages The Effects of Media on the Body-Image of Preadolescent Girls Media is infamous for having a tremendous effect on teenage girls. The mass media have long been criticized for presenting unrealistic appearance ideals that contribute to the development of negative body image for many women and girls (Harrison & Hefner, 2006). Whether it’s the influence on their choice of friends, school, or their self image, media has played an important role in

Body Image. An essay which involves discussion of why body image is so important to society in the present times.

1198 words - 5 pages concerned about weight and body shape. They strive for the "perfect" body and judging themselves by their looks, appearance, and above all thinness. But boys don't escape either. They are concerned with the size and strength of their body. There has been a change in the male body image. Boys live in a culture that showcases males as glamorous "macho" figures that have to be "tough", build muscles and sculpt their bodies, if they want to fit in. They

How Media Effects Body Image

951 words - 4 pages Media Effect on Body Image: Effects Media has on the Way we View Ourselves and Others Attractiveness We all have our ideas of beautiful and attractive everyone views themselves and others differently. Growing up, many people judge others by looks before they get to truly know someone. Media portrays people in ways that make society believe that everyone should look the way photoshopped, airbrushed celebrities look. As seen in a recent

Body Image of Women in America

3398 words - 14 pages Body Image of Women in America missing works cited 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

Effects of Sorority Affiliation on Female Body Image

3081 words - 12 pages et al, 2011). As one becomes assimilated into the college environment, the existence of an unhealthy body-image perception can be fueled when affiliated into groups grounded in expectations of beauty. Sorority Affiliation Curiosity surrounding the effects of affiliation, on the promotion of negative thoughts and actions on body image, introduces a focus within the reality of sorority membership (Schulken et al., 1997). The Greek system

Understanding the Causes of Negative Body Image

547 words - 2 pages our culture is preoccupied with weight and appearance. She begins her book with the history of body image and how at different periods over centuries, fat and thin body types have both been considered “fashionable”. From the late Middle Ages until the 1800s, the rounded figure of a women’s body remained the prevailing image. The rounded figure was a sign of wealth, fertility, and prosperity. The thin “waif look” didn’t enter our society until 1967

Burial in different cultures (

1372 words - 5 pages Burial in Mythology --Practices of the Ancient Egyptian and Greco-Roman Cultures-- Ancient Egyptian and Greco-Roman practices of preparing the dead for the next cradle of humanity are very intriguing. These two cultures differ in amultitude of ways yet similarities can be noted in the domain of funerary services. In the realm of Egyptian afterlife, The Book of the Dead canprovide one with vital information concerning ritual entombment

Body image in modern times and the body image in my school.

535 words - 2 pages 1. Where do we get our ideas about body image?2. Are boys and girls equally concerned about body image? If not, why?3. What do you think the body image is at ICS? Describe it for boys and girlsOur ideas about body image mostly come from television for example movies, TV. Series etc. I think the picture of beauty in our time is not that beautiful, girls try to stay skinny and need to have the right figure even though not all guys like skinny

The Body in Western and Non Western Cultures

1040 words - 4 pages How do people view the body? The answer varies from location, religion and culture. How western cultures view the body and how the body is treated (our body and others) are different from how non western cultures view and treat bodies. We can see the differences in the western and non western bodies in such works as Anne Fadiman’s account of a Hmong child in America and in articles like Genital Surgeries: Gendering Bodies. Along with the many

Culture and its Role in the Construction of Womens Body Image

1611 words - 6 pages do women revise their understandings of cultural narratives in living through them? Wolszon conducted a study in which she asked women from different backgrounds to describe their personal experiences of body image struggles and their attempts to overcome them. She also asked her participants to tell what kind of body they wanted to have and why that was important to them. The results are as follows: “…they (the participants) were able to draw

Similar Essays

The Negative Effects Of The Media On Body Image In Woman

1684 words - 7 pages thin models fosters body image concerns and disordered eating in many females. Almost all forms of the media contain unrealistic images, and the negative effects of such idealistic portrayals (Thompson).” Almost all media outlets project a standard of beauty that is unobtainable to most women who are of average body mass. While the weight of Americans’ and people in general rises, the mass and slenderness of models and projections of what is

Effects Of Media On Adolescents’ Body Image

1162 words - 5 pages tell young girls? Sadly, 35% of girls ages 6-12 have been on at least one diet, reports an article from Teen Magazine. Also, 50-88% of teen girls say they feel negatively about their body shape and size. Adolescents are at a developmental stage in their lives. Significant factors associated with well being, such as body image and self-concept, are molded by the unattainable extremes the media projects. Female adolescents are more vulnerable to

Body Image In The Media Essay

1968 words - 8 pages Body image today is so drastically exaggerated in importance that people, often adolescents, go to the extremes of trying to be perfect. The media is what I believe makes body image such an important issue these days. It makes people want to change everything about themselves, their look, their choices, and their personality. The media are the ones also bringing this on to adolescents because of all the places they advertise. The adults are also

The Portrayal Of Body Image In The Media

623 words - 2 pages to Deborah Grey as a “slab of bacon”. Referring to the size of her body as a slab of bacon can only lower her self-esteem and create dissatisfaction towards her body image. If she were a male, this rude comment would not have been made. Many methods of weight loss being used today are harmful to health. For the first time in history, the smoking rate of girls now surpasses that of boys, with the inviting motivation of weight control. This