Media and Body …

Media and Body Image Dissatisfaction for Males and Females

By: Mia Safaee

  The media is trying to create a body type that is unrealistic for the average women, but it is the only one ever shown by the media, and now they are also targeting men to look a certain way too. The media shows men as having more muscle than the average man in society.  Majority of studies have been done on how the media affects women, there have not been that many studies focusing on men and the affect media has on them.

In the video Killing Us Softly, Jean Kilbourne said, that statistically only five percent of the women in America have the body type that is portrayed. According to the video the message that is replayed over and over is that women are viewed as nothing more than objects to the masses. Society is shown computer-retouched images of women, who do not exist in reality to that standard of perfection, but that is what the media portrays as the ideal body image for women.

The media manipulates society’s idea on what women should look like, and how they should act. The media never focuses on the intelligence of a woman, rather they focus on her body they objectify her rather than humanize her.  The image the media portrays of the female body is always shown in one idealistic type rather than in different types.

Sara Williams, a psychology student at Penn State Harrisburg, said that the media bombards us with images of very thin women.

“Because I am in a major where we frequently discuss gender roles and gender socialization, I have begun to question the expectations placed upon me as a woman living in the present day,” she said.

The message that the media sends to women and young girls is that it is never going to be their personality that gets noticed, only their bodies.

The authors of The Journal of American Psychology: The role of the Media in Body Image by Grabe, Ward, and Hyde, said that body dissatisfaction among American girls and young women has become the norm.

Robin Veder assistant professor of humanities ART history /culture at Penn State Harrisburg said, in general the media simplifies the range of socially excepted behavior for both men and women. For the most part in real life there is more variety of men and women, but the media shows many clear-cut images of how men and women should be.

“I do think it can have a negative effect on how people behave and how they should look,” said Veder.

For the most part the negative affects makes us feel inadequate, because body image issues come from the business that sell the “body image” product. And in many ways there is competition with other media.

“It’s like a media war,” she said.

One business is trying to advertise Slim Fast and another trying to advertise a Big Mac trying to sell both products to the same consumers.

“Approximately 50 percent of girls and undergraduate women report being dissatisfied with their bodies” (Grabe et al., 2008).

The authors said that these perceptions develop relatively early, as young as age 7 among girls of diverse levels of body size and races. The authors said that these feelings are not inconsequential, because media presentation of women’s bodies are so skewed, showcasing an ideal body image that is not reality for most may lead to decreased satisfaction with their bodies. This may lead to behaviors such as dieting, skipping meals, and eating disorders to aim at achieving this idealist standard.

“When we are born we are immediately made aware of the difference between little boys and girls and how those groups are supposed to act,” said Williams.

By society and media portraying these images continuously, they have instilled in women that these are the ideal norms: boys have to be tough and strong, while girls have to be thin, beautiful, and passive.

According to the video Killing Us Softly, advertisers almost always portray women as passive or looking up to the man, while the man in portrayed as aggressive, or looking down on the woman. The media, mainly advertisements, show society the dominant role that men are to play.

“Why is it that so many girls and young women are dissatisfied with their bodies regardless of the size,” (Grabe et al., 2008)?

Among many of the factors from peer and parents to portray a message of thinness, an increasingly higher ideal of thinness is dominating the media.

According to the authors Stice and Shaw, research has been conducted to investigate how exposure to the thin, ideal shape in both a controlled setting and a natural setting has an effect on women and their body dissatisfaction (Stice et al., 2002.).

The authors of the journal show that researchers have used experimental methods to test whether women feel worse about their bodies after exposure to thin media models than after exposure to other types of images.

“Women who are initially dissatisfied with their bodies are most sensitive to adverse effects of media exposure” (Gabe et al.).

The more frequent exposure to fashion magazines or other media portraying ideal thinness, the more it has an adverse effect on how women and girls associate with their body image, leading to higher levels of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders.

The authors of the journal said that much of what is known through research about women and their body dissatisfaction is based largely on Caucasian women with a significant omission of women of color. Therefore, it is unclear whether the same exposure to media would have the same effect across ethnic groups.

“It has been found that viewing sexually objectifying television predict subsequent self-objectification a year later among college women” (Gabe et al. 2008).

The book, Featuring Females: Feminist Analysis of Media by Monique L. Ward and Kristen Harrison said that the media often portrays women in stereotypical roles, or often portrays them as objects of desire. This portrayal of women by the media does not pose a problem, but only if they are always portrayed that way.

“How, then, does repeated exposure to these portrayals affect girls beliefs about themselves and female roles,” said (Ward et al.)?

If the media only represents female characteristics with a limited range of attributes, skills, and abilities, viewers will only develop limited assumptions about females.

According to Johnson, Lanis, and Corell other researchers on the study of women’s body image and the media, they exposed participants to stereotypical, neutral, or counter stereotypical media images and then survey their concerns about gender role beliefs. The participants who were exposed to stereotypical images reported a more sexist attitude than those exposed to neutral or counter stereotypical images.

One approach to the study was to examine whether children imitate the actions of traditional gender roles shown by the media. Another authors study has found that exposure to non-traditional media images has been found to enhance young women’s self-confidence and their willingness to engage in non-traditional tasks.

The bias that the media has toward female thinness as the female ideal portrayed by television and magazines has been shown by researchers to have a negative impact on girls and young women. Being exposed to these images has led girls to become more self-conscious about unrealistic image portrayed by the media. These feelings about females body images portrayed by the media have led girls to believe and accept this value of thinness for themselves and others to be the ideal standard of society.

The New York Times published an article by Erica Goode on May 20, 1999 called Study Finds TV Alters Fiji Girls’ view of Body. Traditionally, in Fiji, dinner guests are expected to eat as much as possible.

“A robust, nicely rounded body is the norm for men and women. Telling someone they have ‘skinny legs’ is a major insult,” said Goode.

Erica Goode said that just a few years after the introduction of television eating disorders once unheard of became a thing of the present.

Know not only is television and magazines altering the way females view their bodies and how men view females, but video games are also having a big affect on men’s perception of the ideal body for women.

The study by Amy Rask called Video Game Vixens: Shaping Men’s Perception of Beauty said that in the past few years every household in America has been able to afford some type of media. With the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) having an increase of $1.28 billion in 2000-2005 video games has been introduced into so many different demographics of homes.

The study surveyed 157 male students from major universities in the south who were assessed to reveal whether unrealistic portrayals of females in video games have an effect on body type preference.

Respondents average 12.7 years of gaming experience and were divided into three groups: non-gamers, casual gamers, and hard-core gamers. Finding reveals that hard-core gamers prefer a more unrealistic body image than do non-gamers, and hard-core gamers make more of a comparison between real women and females in video games

The ESA says that 75 percent of all U.S. households play computer or video games. They are played by both male and female in all age range from young children to 50 year olds.  They spend an average of 6.8 hours per week playing video games.

The day of Ms. Pac-Man games have been quickly given away to more realistic games that require much more involvement from the player. The realism of games has escalated from vibrating controllers, online interaction with other players, extensive story lines, and very human-like characters. Some games like Tiger Woods PGA Tour give the player the option of creating the character’s physical appearance.

Research has found that extensive exposure to media like magazines and television can have an effect on young people, and the way they view their and others body image. This misperception of unrealistic expectations of body image can lead to severe psychological disorders. If this is true for media then excessive exposure to the unrealistic body-types portrayed in video games can also have psychological effects on the players’ perception.

Studies exploring aspects of attractiveness have shown that males most commonly seek high levels of physical attractiveness in a partner. One study done by Smith, Waldorf, & Trembath, 1990 titled Falling in Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose revealed that in an analysis of 283 male personal ads in single magazines, physical attractiveness was one of the most sought out qualities. This shows that men focus more on physical attractiveness than interpersonal qualities.

According to an article in the journal of Social Psychology by Kleinke, C., & Staneski, R: First impressions of female bust size said, that men have been shown to have a more positive relationship between breast size and the level of attractiveness, and in some cases only slim young females with large breasts are thought to be as attractive.

“It can be assumed that these preferences and expectations of men are learned and not cultivated at birth,” said (Kleinke et al.).

It has been confirmed that it is common for young women to compare themselves to models they see in advertisements, thus having a negative effect on how they view their body image. Media images have an indirect and direct effect by forming an unrealistic body image for women. This may be true as to why men perceive women’s bodies the way they do.

In another article titled the International Communication Association: Hyper sexualized females in digital games: Do men want them; do women want to be them? Published by Carried Lynn Reinhard, said that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) industry regulatory in charge of monitoring sales, and adding rating to games, said that 50 percent of all Americans play some type of digital game.

The number of people engaged in video games has been going up in the recent years. 55 percent more males spend time playing video games as entertainment while only 43 percent of females play for entertainment.

This study was to understand how male and females that play video games perceive the hyper sexualized females in the game and if that sort of portray impacts their engagement of the game. The study focuses mainly on the depiction of the female characters body image.

The gaming industry is marketing games towards adolescents and men. They say that men want to play with a more hyper sexualized female character. For example the video game: Laura Croft Tomb Raider whose character is 5 feet 9 inches, 132 pounds, and 34 D. Video game players, scientist, and critics have suggested a reason that women do not play more video games are because, they do not want to or do not feel comfortable playing as a hyper-sexualized female character.

Research shows that men are more likely to play violent video games then girls. Society has an influence on how boys and girls interpret the same content of games to make it acceptable to play, while another possible explanation is how they portray women in game.

Female characters are often portrayed as the “damsel in distress” or if she were the main character of the games she would often by hyper-sexualized. The images of women bodies in video games are often hyper-sexualized to a disproportionate, unhealthy and unrealistic body image. Nowhere in any video games are male characters hyper sexualized, or portrayed with an unrealistic body image. Their bodies may be over exaggerated with broad shoulders, a square jaw and a marrow waist, but these over exaggerations do not in any way suggest sexuality.

Even if the gaming industries does not hyper-sexualize all of its female characters, it will still rely on hyper-sexualizing of some female characters to boost their market products.  The gaming industry is a very male dominant industry. More women should be in this industry to give the females character’s a more realistic approach as with their body image.

Men and women who are constantly playing, and being exposed to video games with hyper-sexualized characters, may comes to think this portrayal of women is the standard in society, in which they themselves should emulate, and at the same time, men want, or feel like women in society should emulate this body type. The study said that both these assumptions are highly based on the person constantly being exposed to these images, and also due to the fact that the person does not have strong parental guidance.

No one likes to be told what to do or how to act, but as we see in today’s society many mainstream artists influence the way society views and treats women through their music videos. Messages portrayed through music videos convince society that treating women as sex objects is acceptable. The women’s role in many hip hop videos is to dance, look provocative, and suggest sexual interest. It is confusing why women would put themselves in a situation in which they are viewed as sex objects or subordinate to men. As seen in many hip-hop videos men are always portrayed as the “pimp” or the more dominant figure while women on the other hand are shown as succumbing to the man’s will or as more passive figure. This type of behavior is not only portrayed in hip-hop videos, but in rock videos as well. Many rock videos and songs show men objectifying women in a sexual manner and implying that it is okay for society to treat women as sexual objects.

The lyric of the rock song “Crazy Bitch” by Buck Cherry illustrates modern societal views of women. The lyrics say, “Hey you’re a crazy bitch but you fuck so good I’m on top of it. When I dream I’m doing you all night…” suggesting that even if the man has no remote interest in the woman, he will still date her because of her sexual ability.

Men are not the only ones objectifying women in music videos. Female musicians are also objectifying themselves as well by portraying themselves as sexual objects. One example is Beyonce’s music video called “Naughty Girl.” In one part of the video she and some girls are standing behind white screens and dancing. All the viewer sees is the silhouette of their bodies.   This message portrays to the viewer and, society that men do not have to pay attention to the girls’ thoughts and ideas or view women as humans. As long as men like the body of a woman she will be worth their time. In one part of Beyonce’s song Naughty Girl she sings “I see you look me up and down, and I came to party” portraying to society that it is acceptable to look at women as sex objects and that the women wants you to view her that way, not to like her for who she is as an individual but for her body. It suggests, to men that they can do whatever they want to women. This is just rationalized by the idea that women are just a sex toy, and that she wants to be taken advantage of. It also signals to women that the only way to get noticed or get any attention from a guy is to showcase themselves as sex objects.  Sara Marie Williams a student at Penn State Harrisburg said that it is unfortunate to see women portrayed like that. She does not watch television any more to avoid the messages it sends out.

“I’ve sort of removed myself form music videos, because I don’t like what they have to say. Sometimes they’re so blatantly sexist I actually laugh,” said Williams

An article in the Journal of Communication titled Rap music videos and African-American women’s body image: The Moderating Role of Ethnic Identity by Yuanyuan Zhang, Travis L. Dixon and Kate Conrad said that African-American women are reportedly more satisfied with their bodies and less susceptible to develop eating disorders than white women.  The “Theory of Attributable Ambiguity” written by Jennifer Crocker and Brenda Major says that people of different races use several self-protecting properties that allow them not to be affected or influenced by negative stereotyping.

Ebony Valentino, a cosmetologist at the Park City Mall in Lancaster said that she does not compare herself to the women portrayed in rap videos or in any music videos.

“I know I look nothing like them, as you learn who you are, you do not compare yourself as much”, Valentino said.

Zhang et al said that the thin images presented in mainstream media are predominantly white. It is plausible that African-American women are likely to reject these images as appropriate references for comparison, thus being less affected.

“Music videos show girls with ‘big booties’ and curves society then portrays us that way,” said Ricosha Valentino a graduate student at Millersville College.

However black women might be more likely to suffer from body image issues when watching thin, black ideals that are geared more towards black audiences, like rap videos.

“Rap music is performed and produced by African-Americans although there are a few formal content analysis on female characters body images in rap music videos, many critics have accused rap music of sexually objectifying women in ways that may reproduce thin-ideal imagery,” said Zhang et al.

“I think it’s disgusting how they portray them, they’re not portraying real women,” said Ebony Valentino.

Zhang et al. said that one potential factor is ethnic identity: “Many researchers suggest that strong ethnic identity may buffer the effect of exposure to mainstream beauty ideals on black women’s body image and eating habits.”

The media appears to moderate the appearances of black women, which means in more black oriented programming women are provided with healthier body images. The Zhang et al said that the presence of thin-ideal images of women body type in media gear towards African-Americans may vary from genre to genre. The extent to which black-oriented media influences black women’s body perception may depend on the level of thin images within the genre.

The impact of thin ideal in the media for African-American women may vary depending of the viewer’s ethnic identity

“Ethnic identity refers to an individual’s knowledge of his/her membership in a social group and the level of attachment he/she has to that group,” said Zhang et al.

According to the Zhang et al identification with one’s ethnic group is crucial to how they view their body image.

“Different from white notions of beauty and attractiveness, black culture tends to appreciate larger ideal body size with lower concern for being overweight,” said Zhang et al.

Scholars argue that strong identification with one’s culture can protect women of color against the un-realistic images portrayed in the media, or the white standard of beauty. Though, for those women who embrace the mainstream white cultural ideal of beauty may become more vulnerable to the pressure of thinness.

Studies have provided supporting evidence that black women with stronger ethnic identity reported more positive body images and lower likelihood of developing eating disorders, whereas black women who adhere more to the values of mainstream culture report a strong drive to be thin and a more likelihood to have eating disorders.

Sara Williams said I use to wish I were as thin as the women portrayed in the videos. “I would consciously too sometime because my body type isn’t the same and people evaluate these women.”In a 2001 study in Journalism Quarterly titled Sexism on MTV: The portrayal of women in Rock Videos by Vincent, Davis, and Boruszkowki examines sex roles and functions of women in music videos in televised music videos primarily viewed by adolescents.

“What form of social actions are depicted as routine,normal, or expected of women and which actions are ignored or negatively portrayed,” says (Vincent et al.)?

Vincent et al. said that these videos use sight and sound to blitz the viewers’ brain. The same image of women is used to sell a man a car that is used to sell a teenager a record.

“Unless the singer is a woman, top selling artists have a way of how they portray themselves. It’s their choice,” said Ben Branstetter a student at Penn State Harrisburg.

He said the way they portray females in music videos is completely unrealistic. The guys who are looking for that type of women are usually full of it.

“Kaplan argues that MTV brings us another few steps toward desensitization in a video culture,” says (Vincent et al.).

Vincent et al. said that there are four levels of how the music industry and media portray women first level is “condescending.” The second level is called “keep her place,” the third level is known as “contradictory” and the fourth: “fully equal”.

“Condescending” refers to the way women are portrayed in music videos as being less than a person, a two-dimensional image. This includes stereotype such as “dumb-blond,”  “sexy object,” and “whimpering victim.”

An example of “Keep Her Place” consists of portrayal of women in music videos demonstrates women’s strengths, and capacities, that they acknowledge to the viewers.

The “Contradictory” level shows the woman in a dual role, where she plays a traditional role, but also is displaying a certain degree of independence. An example of this would be

“A women with certain skills is placed in a situation where she teaches a man something but then backs off before she embarrasses him,” said Vincent et al.

In the last level is called “Fully Equal,” the women are treated as a person without fulfilling a stereotypical role.

According to the study it is very common for women to be used as decorative object. In these productions women are often shown as background decoration, clad in bathing suits, lingerie, or highly seductive clothing.

“To underline the nature of sexism in music videos it may be helpful to examine on case where the video was rated as contradictory,” said Vincent et al.

For example AC/DC’s Sink in Pink music video shows a woman who is extremely talented at pool. She enters the pool hall with a seductive walk and all the men are staring at her. Before she wins the game she suddenly backs out to avoid embarrassing the man, and then begins to seduce him.

“This message appears to be that this is a woman with confidence and a commanding presence, but is still sexual. It is permissible for her to use her talent as long as she does not out-perform the man,” said Vincent et al.

“I think the music industry and media should portray more images of everyday women, but not in the absurdly skimpy clothing or as accessories to men,” said Williams.

Sex sells. No question about that, but why are more and more ads portraying women in a sexualized manner when it has nothing to do with the product they are selling? by Kathleen Martin. This article examines the portrayal of women in advertisements, as playing a stereotypical role or seen as a sexual object in the eyes of the advertiser.

It is apparent that women are seen only to play two roles in advertising. Either they are seen to be obsessed with cleaning, or seen as sexual creatures.  Martin said advertisers feel that those are the only two ways to portray women. Some advertisers are now starting to  put men in that sort of domestic role.

“Though, even now in the 21st century where women are in the working field and have worked to break down those barriers, advertisers still seem to primarily target women as cleaners and caretakers,” said Martin.

According to the author of the article, advertisers have made some changes in the types of roles women are portrayed in, but there are still issues about, adverting violence among women, sexualization, and body image issues. Kathleen Martin said that you do not have to look far to find examples of women being portrayed either in a sexualized way or in a domestic way.

They are everywhere from the breast obsessed advertisements like the Opium Perfume ad, where a naked woman is sleeping on a black satin cloth, with her back arched, mouth open,holding her breast, her knees bent, and her thighs spread apart, referring to porno-chic a stir caused in Europe, and now coming to the United States.  -Opium perfume ad-

The editor of Toronto-based Fashion Magazine, Leanne Delap said that the Opium ad portrays a size 12 woman however, while some women said that they were pleased to see a more realistic image of a woman portrayed, other women were offended by the nudity.

Louise Ripley, a professor of marketing, women’s studies, and environmental studies at York University in Toronto said that there is a reason why ads like the opium ad are created. It is because marketers are so deeply socialized in anti-women thinking that it comes through without thinking about it.

Kathleen Martin said that advertisement images have had a long term effect on society particularly on women. Advertisements mainly focus on the distorted views of the “normal” female body, distorting assumptions about what a normal female body looks like.

“Ads-primarily for fashion and beauty-related products-continue, to an alarming degree, to depict beauty as the property only of those who are young, thin and white,” said Martin.

She said that some marketers in Canada are making an effort to break down this stereotype.  The Lubriderm campaign in Canada features both a black and white woman in their late 60s to early 70s talking about what is good about old age.

“The notion that getting older is good is radical enough in our youth-obsessed advertising culture,” she said.

The author of the article said that usually ads portray a young size 2 model, but the fact that older women are selling this product shows that society does not have to stay young to be beautiful.  While Lubriderm’s efforts are a positive example about adverting portrayal of women, where the industry creative process is mainly male-dominated, there is still a need for education. (2001)

Hall and Crum (1994), said that in print advertisement women’s bodies appear more often than men’s bodies, and when men are shown, their faces are focused on more than their bodies.

“Sexist and stereotypical images of women are conveyed to the American public through numerous channels,” said Hall and Crum.

Courtney, Whipple, and Locketz, 2009 researched the sexist messages conveyed through advertising and found four basic themes:  (1) Women are usually portrayed in traditional homemaker roles. (2) Women do not conduct important decisions, only simple and inexpensive ones. (3) Women need men for everything- protection, money, wisdom etc. (4) Women are viewed as sex objects and decorations with no personalities.

Hall and Crum (1994) address how women are portrayed as sex objects in beer commercials by observing the number and type of body shots used by the beer advertisers.

Hall and Crum said that, the only way advertisers perceive women are as sex objects. The advertisers strip them of their individual identities.  Now they are not only marketing one product, but two, the woman’s body and the beer.

“This non-human image reduces women to body-parts, rather than a person,” said Hall and Crum (1994).

When magazines and advertisers focus more on women’s bodies said the authors, and not their face, and more on men’s faces and less on their bodies a subtle message is conveyed to the audience.

“Intelligence and personality are communicated through pictures of faces, while only attractiveness is communicated through pictures of bodies,” said Hall and Crum (1994)

The authors of the study said that the degree to which the camera is focusing on the females body, shows that women are only viewed as attractive bodies, with no personalities or intelligence.

“The type and number of body shots in print advertisement does not seem to differ with the type of products advertised,” said Hall and Crum (1994)

The authors described an example of how advertisement has no relevance with the product the marketers are selling the way women’s bodies are used to sell products. Mainly beer commercials use this tactic of the woman’s sex appeal in their advertisements.

The examples the authors used is the Swedish Bikini Team Commercials for Old Milwaukee Beer. In this commercial, large-breasted blond women wearing bikinis, were portrayed as fun companions brought in especially to party with a small group of men.

This commercial promoted a lot of complaints said the authors, a major lawsuit against Stroh Brewery by three female employees on the grounds that the sexism promoted in the commercial caused sexual harassment in the work place.

“However, legal complaints do not appear to change the behaviors of advertising companies,” said (Hall et al.).

While not all beer commercials always advertise women in their commercials, when they do either the woman is portrayed in a purgative manner, as to wearing little to no clothes or shown as a passive character, where the man is always viewing them as less than human. Like the Carlton Mid Beer ad, where the woman is dressed in a simple outfit walks in (she is not portrayed in any sexual manner) her hair tied back, wanting her husband to go home with her, and as they are about to leave as man dresses up in a cowboy outfit (like in those old western movies) walks into the bar. He is known by the other men in the bar as the “Woman Whisperer” he says, “Easy girl…shhh why don’t you have a little chat with Rachel, let him stay for another beer.”  (When he says this it seems as if he has hypnotized her) The woman then turns around to her husband and says, “Why don’t you have another beer I’m going to talk with Rachel.”

The commercial portrays the male role as a more dominant character and the woman as a more passive character. It seems that if the woman is not used as a sex symbol in advertisements they are usually shown as a passive character.

It is true that sex sells, but the way advertisements portray men and women are very different. When men are used in a sexual way to promote a product it is never demeaning, but women are portrayed in a very demeaning way. There are ways advertisers can portray women sexually and attractive without demeaning them, but like the authors of the study, Hall et al., (1994) said the only way advertisers see women are as sex objects, with no individual identity.

This type of portrayal by advertising companies has a psychological affect on how men and women view themselves, and how society views each other. This is why there are cases of anorexia and bulimia in both men and women.

There have been many studies on how body image exposure has an effect on women and girls. Studies on the effect of body image exposure on men and boys are much rear.

A study by Lorenzen, Grieve, and Thomas (2004) said that it is our socio-cultural factors, like the media that appear to influence body dissatisfaction in both men and women. People are bombarded daily with cultural stereotypical images of what men and women are supposed to look like. An unrealistic impossible standard of attractiveness is idealized and place on both men and women.

Lorenzen et al said that the constant exposure to ideal body types can make individuals more sensitive and conscious about their own bodies and can evoke comparisons between themselves and the unrealistic media images.

The authors said the pressure that women put on themselves to have this ideal body image set by the media is more pronounced, than for men.

However, studies show that although most women want to be thinner most men actually want to be more muscular. For example men who are underweight wish to gain an average of 17 pounds in muscle, were men in general would like to gain three pounds of muscle.

A study by Pope, Gruber, et al. (2000) examined the muscle content and fat content of men, and found that the ideal body shape for men was 28 pounds more muscular than the average body shape.

Recent studies also suggest that not only do men wish that they were more muscular, but that society has begun to adopt this more muscular body as a cultural ideal image for men. This idealistic change in men’s body type has been linked to influences in the media such as male action figures, male models in magazines and other various media influences.

The effect that exposure to these cultural ideas of men in the media may be having an influence on males body dissatisfaction. Most men are generally dissatisfied with their body image. The goal of the study by Lorenzen et al. was to evaluate the direct effect of exposure to ideal body types of men. However instead of showing images of very thin male models they showed images of very muscular male models.

The first hypothesis the authors of the study came up with was that exposure to advertisements of muscular men the participants self-rated body satisfaction would decrease. The second hypothesis was that men’s self-rated body satisfaction would remain constant after being exposed to advertisements of average men. Participants were 104 college men, because studies found the desire to be more muscular if found in men as well as adolescents. The authors said that there were 65 college freshmen, 12 sophomores, 4 juniors, 7 seniors, and 4 graduate level participants. The results of the study found that even such brief exposure to media images may be related to body dissatisfaction in men in much the same way that brief exposure to images of very thin women may relate to women’s body dissatisfaction.

The results of the first hypothesis were found to be true. After, several exposures to muscular men in media showed that men who viewed these images had a decreased level of body satisfaction. This finding supports research that suggests exposure to stereotypical media images of attractiveness can cause distortion in body satisfaction in both men and women.

The article titled: The lure of the body image: in their quest for the beefcake look, some men try extreme measures by Susan McClelland said that the idealized male body image nowadays is beefy and muscular, as shown in magazines.

She says that more men are going to the gym to achieve this look. However some men are taking it to the extreme. Statistics on steroid use show an alarming number of male teenagers across the country using the substance illegally simply to put on muscle.

According to the site, Second to None isteroids: super steroid site explains, that in 2006 The Monitoring the Future National Survey on Drug by the University of Michigan said, that 2.7 percent of high school seniors have admitted to having used steroids at least once.

The same study shows that among eight graders that 1.6 percent has tried steroids once in their life, while 0.9 percent has used in the past year, and 0.5 percent have used in the past month. Among 10th graders 1.8 percent has tried steroids once in their life.

Susan McClelland said that men are increasingly being diagnosed with eating disorders, and plastic surgeons report that increasingly numbers of men are seeking to improve their appearance.

“This ‘cult of masculinity’ isn’t just in gay culture as so many like to believe. It envelops the entire culture. It is an obsessive devotion to an ideal,” said Michelangelo Signorile, author of the book Life Outside chronicles the history of body image among homosexual men.

Signorile and Brian Pronger, a philosopher in the faculty of physical education at the University of Toronto said that men gay or straight have adopted a more masculine appearance after the Oscar Wilde trials in the 1890s associated effeminate behavior with homosexuality in societies mind.  The women suffrage and later the modern feminist movement caused men to want a more physically larger appearance as a means of defending their male status.

Susan McClelland said that Calvin Klein and other clothing ads are not alone in using men with buffed bodies to sell products. “Other advertisers including Coca-Cola, Nike, and Marlboro use men bodies as a selling market.

Magazines stands now offer dozens of articles devoted to male health and ways to increase muscle mass, tantalizing readers with images of muscular men and snappy headlines like “Great abs in eight weeks.”

“One of the sad consequences of the push towards a hyper-masculine image is that it can rarely be obtained without the use of potentially harmful drugs,” said McClelland.

In a downtown Toronto gym, Mike, a 32-year-old former bodybuilder and weight lifter and a longtime user of anabolic steroids, interviewed by Susan McClellan, said that  one result of working out seriously can be that, no matter how big their muscles get, men start thinking they are still not big enough. It is a phenomenon disturbingly similar to cases of eating disorders among women who believe they are too big, no matter how thin they get.

According to Dr. Howard Steiger, a clinical psychologist and director of the eating disorder program at Douglas Hospital in Montreal, surveys have shown that five to 10 per cent of eating disorder sufferers are men. He says most people with eating disorders have unstable self-esteem. He also says there are increasing socio-cultural pressures on men to connect their self-esteem to body image. While there are no new national figures, specialists in many centers say that bulimia nervosa, characterized by binge eating and vomiting, is on the rise in men.

In addition to steroid use and erratic eating behaviors, more men are looking at plastic surgery to alter their body image. Dr. Bill Papanastasiou, a plastic surgeon in Montreal, estimates that only 10 percent of his patients were male when he opened his practice 13 years ago. Today, it is as high as 15 to 20 percent.

The article by Alexander Mussap (2007) said that men and women are both pressured to conform to narrow and unrealistic ideals of physical appearance promoted by the media, friends, and family. These factors are thought to contribute to the development of negative body image, and to the adoption of unhealthy and drastic body changes. Alexander Mussap said that individuals who engage in body comparisons, have internalized the thin ideal, they have low self-esteem, and/or are perfectionists and are consider being very susceptible to the pressures of society.

“The promotion of a lean and muscular male body ideal, has contributed to some men’s desire for a thinner body, and other men’s desire for a larger, more muscular body,” said Mussap.

The study was to show whether women like men have multidimensional approaches in the way they desired to see their body ideal. Alexander Mussap said that during puberty, fat deposits on the girls’ hips and waits, which is between 0.67 and 0.80 for the average woman.

“Ratings of the attractiveness of female body shapes show that the most aesthetically pleasing female body possesses a Waist-to-Hip Ratio (WHR) of around 0.70.

The study has found that women’s body dissatisfaction mainly has to do with the size of their hip. There is evidence that mood moderates the WHR and how she evaluates her body.

“For example, the relationship between WHR and body dissatisfaction is stronger for women with elevated trait depression,” said Mussap.

Even men are shown to be worried about their appearance and showing signs of stressing over what they look like. It is now also common more than ever for men and boys to be diagnosed with eating disorders. Sandra G. Boodam a reporter for The Washington Post wrote an article titled, Eating Disorders Not Just for Women; Men Are Also Prone to Risky Food Habits, published on March 13, 2007.

She said that men are looking to be more like the male actors they see on television, like soccer superstar David Beckham and the James Bond character played by Daniel Craig.  Sandra Boodam said, long regarded as a women’s problem, — anorexia, bulimia and binge eating — are increasingly affecting males.

She said earlier studies done by Harvard researchers reported that 10 percent of cases for bulimia and anorexia were males, and now the same research conducted a month ago found that 25 percent of males were diagnosed with either anorexia or bulimia and 40 percent who were diagnosed as binge eaters.

“Although disordered eating is well-known among teenage girls and young women, experts say the problem among boys and young men is frequently overlooked by parents and coaches, and under-treated by doctors,” said Boodam.

Sandra Boodam said that males now seem to have become vulnerable to the social pressures to achieve the perfect body, the same social pressures that have been plaguing women for quite some time.

“But unlike the female ideal, which tends to focus on a “goal weight” or overall skinniness, men’s focus is nearly always on achieving “six-pack” abs,” said Boodam.

James I. Hudson, lead author of the study, which estimated that about 9 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. The research was published last month in the journal Biological Psychiatry, said that men try not to admit to having eating disorders, because they think that it is a problem that is strongly associated with women, fearing that they would look unmanly.

“Even if they do, they may have trouble finding treatment. Some eating disorder programs admit only women,” he said.

An article printed in the Wall Street Journal by Elizabeth Bernstein (2007) she wrote a story about a man name Brad Huffaker, from Knoxville Tennessee who has been struggling with an eating disorder without knowing it.

Huffaker was always obsessively exercising, up to five hours a day. He would not eat anything for 12 hours, but would binge at night and then vomit, a cycle he repeated up to eight times throughout the night. Last summer he had realized he had an eating disorder and tried to find help.

“He went on the internet and found 20 in-patient facilities for women only, he had only found one that specialized in treating men,” said Bernstein.

Elizabeth Bernstein said that because these conditions are considered female problems, even the criteria for identifying eating disorders are geared towards women. Eating-disorder experts and male patients said that the current lack of treatment programs can have a great impact on the chance of recovery.  There is still a lack of treatment options for male patients.

Only a few facilities treat men with eating disorders, many of the treatment centers will not treat men at all she said, and there has been virtually no research done on males with eating disorders.

“Because these conditions are still considered female problems, even the criteria for identifying eating disorders are female oriented,” she said.

Elizabeth Bernstein said, in February-in the first National Survey of Eating Disorders done by Harvard researchers reported that most males represent as many as one-quarter of anorexia and bulimia patients, and close to 40 percent of binge eaters.

“That would mean 300,000 men in the U.S. over 18 get anorexia at some point in their lives, and two million become binge eaters,” said the Harvard researchers.

The Harvard researchers said that no one knows if the numbers of male eating disorder patients are actually growing, or if more men and boys are simply coming to seek treatment.

“But a few programs that specialize in men say that they are seeing increased enrollment,” said Bernstein.

The researchers at Harvard said that both males and females with eating disorders experience similar biological and psychological problems.  While females are more concerned with calories and weight, males tend to focus more on muscle gain and body fat.

“Unlike females, males have a variety of body images they may be trying to obtain. Some want to be wiry like Mick Jagger. Some want to be lean like David Beckham, and some want to be really buff and bulked, like Arnold Schwarzenegger,” says psychiatrist Arnold Andersen, director of the eating- disorders program at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City.

Elizabeth Bernstein said that the stigma of having an eating disorder can be even greater for males than females, since eating disorders are seen as a girl’s disease in our society. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reviewed clinical trials for eating disorders conducted between 1980 and 2005. The 32 trials for anorexia included 816 females and 23 males. 47 trials for bulimia included 2,985 females and only 69 males. 26 trials for binge eating include 1,008females and 87 males. The eight medication studies on anorexia included 293 females and only one male.  In respond to the clinical trials several experts like Dr. Arnold E. Andersen, who wrote a book titled Males with Eating Disorders, are developing a gender neutral screening test for patients with eating disorders.

The truth is that statistically many more women suffer from eating disorders than do men. An article in The American Journal of Psychiatry by The McKnight Investigators (2003), said that full and partial-syndrome eating disorder affect as many as 10 percent of adolescent girls and pose a great threat to their health and happiness.

The study included 1,103 girls from grades 6-9 in school district in Arizona and California.

“While clinical treatments can be effective they are expensive and not always available,” said the McKnight Investigators.

The study found high score factors in the categories of thin body preoccupation and social pressures. They also measured concerns with weight, body shape and eating: social eating, dieting, and weight teasing. The study predicted onset of eating disorders from young women in middle and high school.

The McKnight Investigators’ study concluded that thin body preoccupation and social pressure are risk factors for the development of eating disorder in adolescents.

There are 5 to 10 million women and girls the National Organization for Woman says, that suffer from anorexia and /or bulimia in the United States alone, and 86 percent of people with eating disorders report some symptoms of the illness by the time they turn 20.

“Eating disorders pose a considerable threat to young women’s health and adjustment because they are associated with significant psychological impairment and adverse health outcomes… and high rates of suicide or death, resulting from complications of starvation,” said Faith A. Dohm et al. (2003)

The authors of American Journal of Psychiatry found that studies on anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa have focused on white women and girls more than on ethnic minorities. The authors said that black women are less likely than white women to report eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia, but are equally or more likely to report binge eating.

“Rates of binge eating in white and black women have been thought to reflect comparable risk for developing binge eating disorder,” said (Dohm et al. 2003).

The study from the American Journal of Psychiatry concludes that eating disorders, especially anorexia and bulimia are more common among white women than among black women.  Thought the low treatment rate for both white and black women suffering from eating disorders need to be more sought out by health care professionals.

The study from the American Journal of Psychiatry concludes that eating disorders, especially anorexia and bulimia are more common among white women than among black women.  Thought the low treatment rate for both white and black women suffering from eating disorders need to be more sought out by health care professionals.

The authors of study of the International Journal of Eating Disorders (2009) said that there is evidence found that restrained eating could possibly be environmentally, as well as genetically influenced. A study was done by the Schur et al. the authors of the study found that being eating is moderately to highly heritable, and that disinhibited eating patterns are estimated to  be  45 percent heritable.

“In sum, there is evidence that eating behaviors are genetically influenced, but the degree of influence on restrained eating remains unknown,” said (Schur et al. 2009).

About comeback2earth

I graduate from Penn State University with a BA in Humanities focusing on journalism. This is my favorite quotes from my favorite media professor, "A picture is worth a thousand words, but a good word is worth more than a thousand pictures." -Professor Kareithi. As a young undergrad. confused and lost in the world of academics as to what my goals in life were, and who I wanted to become I was given a guiding light by a very inspirational professor who also happened to be a former journalist back home-in Kenya. Professor K. Inspired me and opened up my minds eye to the power of the written word, and the power of giving people a voice. My blog has become my voice. I believe everyone has a story and everyone can be given a voice.✌️
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