Gender Ethnicity, and Body Image

Gender Ethnicity, and Body Image

Body Image and Gender

Women are much more likely than men to be dissatisfied with their bodies, often wanting to be thinner than they are. Body weight perception has been found to begin in girls as young as 7 years old. Approximately 50% of girls and undergraduate women report being dissatisfied with their bodies. Girls and women are much more likely than boys and men to diet, develop eating disorders, and be obese.

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The image of the ideal woman presented in the media is often unrealistic and even unhealthy. In a review of BMI data for Miss America pageant winners since 1922, researchers noted a significant decline in BMI over time, with an increasing number of recent winners having BMIs in the “underweight” category. The average fashion model is 4-7 inches taller and almost 50 pounds lighter than the average American woman. Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women.

Our culture may be promoting an unattainable masculine ideal as well. Researchers have found that media consumption is positively associated with a desire for thinness and muscularity. Researchers studying male action figures note that they have become increasingly muscular. Such media messages can be demoralizing; boys and men also suffer from body image problems, although not as commonly as girls and women.

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