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The Weigh In: Influences, Effects, And Attitudes On Body Image

1413 words - 6 pages

Body Image, Family, and Peers
Media is not the only factor that influences women’s perceptions of body image. Van Vonderen and Kinnally’s (2012) study indicates that it is only one small aspect in body dissatisfaction. When asking participants for other influences on body image, Pitura (2010) found that family and peer opinions were prominent factors in how people judged their own body image. Accordingly, Sheldon’s (2010) study also found that family pressure has the most impact on men’s body esteem while peer pressure has the most impact on women’s body esteem. A woman with high family and peer pressure is more likely to compare herself to models (Sheldon, 2010). This can cause higher body ...view middle of the document...

This reinforces the idea that families do have some at least impact on other family members’ body image.
Peer pressure is also instrumental in shaping body dissatisfaction. Peer pressure is experienced at an early age and remains present well into the college years (Sheldon, 2010). According to the social cognitive theory, people learn by observing others; they pick up information from their social interactions. A person realizes that one can be socially accepted by conforming to the norms. Both boys and girls want to be highly regarded by their peers. However, Rosenberg (1965) found that girl were more concerned with this value. Because of this, adolescent girls learn that looking a certain way and having a certain body type is valued over other alternative appearances. Media prompts women to think about their body image. They then discuss this topic with their other female friends, which teaches them that slimness is both attractive and preferable (Sheldon, 2010). Female adolescents frequently compare and contrast themselves to their peer group. They want others to like them. In order to be accepted and find approval, they will attempt to change their appearance.
Another form of peer pressure is to be found attractive by the opposite sex (Eggermont, et al., 2005). Not only do women want to be accepted by their peers, they want to attract a potential romantic interest. By doing so, they find validation in their appearances. Eggermont et al. (2005) found that girls who experienced romantic relationships were more self-confident. In turn, this supports the idea that girls believe they need to have a certain body image in order to gain approval. They are considered “good enough” after they are accepted by their peers. Considering this, peer pressure has been found to be one of the most influential factors in shaping one's view of body image (Sheldon, 2010).

Body Image and Self-Esteem
In connection to body image, self-esteem and self-confidence should be taken into consideration as well (Pitura, 2010). Self-esteem has a major impact on body dissatisfaction. Rosenberg (1965) defines self-esteem as the negative or positive attitude towards oneself. Although media, family pressure, and peer pressure are influential, they do not have the direct effects self-esteem does. Those with high self-esteem respect themselves and believe that they are decent and valuable. They do not view themselves as better than others, nor do they view themselves as considerably worse. Those with low self-esteem do not respect themselves. They do not like the idea of who they are (Rosenberg, 1965).
Pitura (2010) argues that a mental vulnerability must be present for the mind to be easily swayed to outside influences' opinions and viewpoints. By first being unsure of one’s appearance and body image, then body dissatisfaction can be intensified by the other factors. Those who do not fit the societal ideals of body image may begin to devalue themselves, which results in lower...

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