Healthy Body Image & Facts
Here are some interesting facts about Body Image
and why many of us may be suffering from a poor body image:
* In 1920, women attained the right to vote. This was also the
first year of the Miss America Pageant.
* A poll conducted by a popular women's magazine found that 75%
of women thought they were "too fat" (Glamour,1984).
A large scale survey conducted by Garner (1997) found body dissatisfaction
to be "increasing at a faster rate than ever before"
among both men and women. He found that 89% of the 3,452 female
respondents wanted to lose weight.
* Many women suffer from body dissatisfaction, and assiduous dieting
and the relentless pursuit of thinness has become a normative
behavior among women in Western society. Thinness has not only
come to represent attractiveness, but also has come to symbolize
success, self-control and higher socioeconomic status. Market
data Enterprises, Inc. estimated the size of the weight loss industry
for 1994 at $32,680 billion.
* Body image dissatisfaction and eating disorders are more prevalent
among females than males. This gender specificity is apparent
in that over 90% of patients with anorexia nervosa or bulimia
nervosa are women.
* Body image dissatisfaction and dieting behavior isn't restricted
to adolescents or adults. In a study of almost five hundred schoolgirls,
81% of the ten-year-olds reported that they had dieted at least
once. A study of 36,000 students in Minnesota found that girls
with negative body image were three times more likely than boys
of the same age, to say that they feel badly about themselves
and were more likely to believe that others see them in a negative
light. The study also found that negative body image is associated
with suicide risk for girls, not for boys.
* Wooley and Wooley (1980) found that girls are more influenced
and thus more vulnerable to cultural standards of ideal body images,
than boys are. A recent national health study, that studied 2,379
9yr and 10 yr old girls (approximately half White and half Black)
found that 40 % of them reported that they were trying to lose
weight (Striegel-Moore et al, 1996).
* Bar-Tal and Sax (1961) found that our culture places a higher
value on physical beauty in the evaluation of females than males.
Garner, Garfinkel, Schwartz & Thompson (1980), have found
that the average size of idealized woman (as portrayed by models),
has become progressively thinner and has stabilized at 13-19%
below physically expected weight. Rodin, Silberstein, & Striegelmoore
(1984), suggest that this thin ideal is unachievable for most
women and is likely to lead to feelings of self-devaluation, feelings
of dysphoria (depression) and helplessness.
* The discontent with one's body shape and size doesn't seem to
be confined to White women alone. A survey conducted by the largest
African-American women's publication in the U.S. (Essence magazine)
served as an eating disorders study. The results from over 2,000
respondents indicated that African American women are at risk
for eating disorders in at least equal proportions to their White
counterparts. Analysis of the results also revealed that African
American women have adopted similar attitudes towards body image,
weight and eating to White women (Pumariega, Gustavson, Gustavson,
Stone Motes & Ayers, 1994).
* Shame seems to be another component of women's attitudes toward
their bodies. In a Kinsey survey it was found that women felt
more embarrassed when asked about their weight, than when they
were asked about their masturbation practices, or occurrences
of homosexual affairs (Kinsey et al., 1953).
* Women and girls are also consistently taught from an early age
that their self-worth is largely dependent on how they look. The
fact that women earn more money than men in only two job categories,
those of modeling and prostitution serves to illustrate this point
* In a sample of male and female high school students, two-thirds
of boys and girls believed that being thinner would have an impact
on their lives. The majority of girls believed that this impact
would be positive, while the majority of the boys believed that
the impact would be negative. The gender groups did not differ
significantly in their weight distribution around the expected
norm for their group. Girls had higher body dissatisfaction scores
than boys on all measures. Girls reported magazines as their primary
source of information regarding diet and health, whereas boys
reported their primary source to be parents, followed by two other
categories before mentioning magazines (Paxton, Wertheim, Gibbons,
Szmukler, Hillier, & Petrovich, 1991).
Creating a Heathy
Living a Healthy