Abnormal Psychology and Body Image in the Media
What is body image?
Simply stated, body image is a mental image someone creates of themself or their body. Body image can be what people see when they look in the mirror, what someone believes about their appearance, or feelings associated with thoughts regarding their body. According to Psychology Today, Body image is not only “subject to all kinds of distortion from internal elements such as our emotions, moods, early experiences, attitudes of our parents, and much more”, but is also greatly impacted by external elements… such as what we see or experience. Because body image can be distorted so easily, it can also create higher potential for eating disorders and anxiety.
Here is a quick introduction video on body image in the media:
Why is body image in the media important?
Body image is something that everyone experiences– it is unavoidable. While body image can be distorted through various internal elements, one of the ways that body image is formed is also through the media (media being social media, television, movies, advertisements, magazines, newspaper, etc.). While negative body image can lower self esteem, it can also create a vulnerable foundation for various eating disorders and anxiety through the portrayal of the “perfect body”. With highly edited images on social media, unrealistic body standards in advertising, and a constant topic of weight-loss in magazines, one’s body image is greatly impacted by the media. Not only is body image impacted, but it is impacted on a mass scale (to men and women of all ages). Because of body image, approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. In addition to this, 58% of college-aged girls feel pressured to be a certain weight. These strikingly high numbers are just a few of the many studies that show how many people are impacted. However, unfortunately, only 5% of women have the “ideal” body that is portrayed through the media, making it impossible for 95% of women to achieve the media’s “perfect body”.
How does body image in the media relate to abnormal psychology?
Continuing on the idea that body image can lead to eating disorders, a recent study showed that more than 1/3 of the participants who admit to “normal dieting,” will merge into pathological dieting. Roughly 1/4 of those will suffer from a partial or full-on eating disorder. Regarding eating disorders, body image can not only control the severity of an eating disorder, but it is also a major predictor of relapse in both anorexia and bulimia nervosa.
What are the “treatments” for body image?
Various methods have been used to attempt to correct distorted body size estimation. One method has been to provide corrective feedback to anorexia nervosa patients with the aim of improving accuracy over time. This can be accomplished in several ways. One strategy involves providing feedback on standardized measures of size estimation. Another involves directing patients to study their body in a mirror and try to develop a more objective or realistic view of their weight or shape. Some studies have shown that this exercise may have value in helping patients overcome denial of the severity of their disorder. However, most clinicians agree that directly changing body size perceptions has very limited role in the treatment of anorexia nervosa. It is not surprising that confronting patients with their own distorted self-perception has little therapeutic effect since most patients have a long history of feedback by friends, family and therapists that they are too thin and must gain weight.
- Body Image. Psychology Today, www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/body-image. Accessed 15 Apr. 2018.
- Body Image in the Media. Mirror Mirror, www.mirror-mirror.org/body-image-in-the-media.htm. Accessed 15 Apr. 2018.
- “Do Something . Org.” Do Something . Org, www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-body-image. Accessed 15 Apr. 2018.
- Eating Disorders. Kids Helpline, kidshelpline.com.au/teens/issues/eating-disorders. Accessed 22 Apr. 2018.
- Eating Disorders Statistics. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/. Accessed 24 Feb. 2014.
- Media’s Effects on Body Image. Produced by William Lewis, 2013. YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRtjyAi5C3w. Accessed 13 Nov. 2013.
- National Eating Disorder Hotline. Pinterest, www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/386746686720980223/. Accessed 22 Apr. 2018.
- 9 Body Image Truths You Need to Know. Trish Blackwell, WordPress, www.trishblackwell.com/numbers-on-a-scale-that-you-need-to-know/. Accessed 10 Apr. 2013.
- Palmer, Mario. “5 Facts About Body Image.” Amplify, amplifyyourvoice.org/u/marioapalmer/2013/05/21/byob-be-your-own-beautiful. Accessed 24 Feb. 2014.
- Roxby, Philippa. “Does Social Media Impact on Body Image?” BBC, 13 Oct. 2014, www.bbc.com/news/health-29569473. Accessed 13 Oct. 2014.
- Survey Finds That Women Are More Likely To Consider Plastic Surgery Than They Were Ten Years Ago. ASAPS: The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, www.surgery.org/media/news-releases/survey-finds-that-women-are-more-likely-to-consider-plastic-surgery-than-they-were-ten-years-ago. Accessed 24 Feb. 2014.