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Understanding the Causes of Negative Body Image

I chose to read the book titled Understanding the Causes of Negative Body Image by Barbara Moe because I plan on focusing my research paper on how the media has strong control over womens development of self-esteem and body image. The message that the media is sending creates the context within which people learn to value size and shape of their body. Moes book focuses on how 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 womens body remained the prevailing image. The rounded figure was a sign of wealth, fertility, and prosperity. The thin waif look didnt enter our society until 1967 when Leslie Hornby, known as Twiggy, began showing up in the media. Moe also discussed the emergence of the mass media which confronted people with many ideal bodies to look at and quickly, body image became a widespread obsession. The book did a great job of going into depth on how television and movies and magazines and newspapers are powerful promoters of the be thin message.

Moe concluded her book with ways people can re-create body images and learn to love their own bodies. The environment in which people live influences body image concerns. Today, we live in an environment that is surrounded by the media. Advertisements, celebrities, magazines, television, etc. all have immense influences on women, defining a perfect body. Seeing overly skinny models in the media does not enhance womens self-esteem, self-worth, or self-image. The degree of thinness exhibited by models is both unachievable and biologically inappropriate and provides unhelpful role model for women.

I liked the chapter of Moes book where she discussed the history of womens body image. She included a section on the Miss America Contests. I thought it was very interesting to read that the average bust-weight-hip measurements for women were (in inches) 32-25-35 when the contests began in 1921. Flat chests were in and some women even bound their breasts to flatten them. It is amazing how over time womens body image has changed. Miss Americas weight has significantly decreased over the years and the average bust-weight-hip measurements have decreased about 2 inches. Today, bigger breasts and skinnier bodies seem to be fashionable.

In conclusion, there is a great need for more diverse and realistic body shapes to be shown throughout the media, especially on television and in magazines. The pressures many people feel to make their bodies conform to one ideal would be reduced, lessening the feelings of body dissatisfaction. Because the media and public idolize and emulate ultra-thin actresses and models, as a result, are many women in America led to self-destruction and suffer from psychological illnesses such as anorexia? Has the rate of anorexia increased during the years when the thin look has been in and how many women are dieting on any given day?

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