Women & Depression Due to Body Image

Women & Depression Due to Body Image

Women and Depression Due to Body Image: An Interdisciplinary Mirror

Introduction

Body image is a serious issue that women deal with every day. When a woman has a healthy view of her body, there is also a healthier insight of personal size and shape, while a negative perception of the body can lead to obscure thoughts about weight, and shape, along with diseases such as different eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. Body image is a significant concern because is begins at such an early stage of a woman’s life. Females become very dissatisfied with their appearance and body image only a few years after they can recognize themselves in a mirror.

Women in the American culture tend to look at themselves in a mirror often and in their reflection’s a majority of these ladies think that they have a dissatisfactory image. With these negative thoughts come many disturbing issues that women deal with on a regular basis. In recent studies researchers used various techniques to examine negative body image and concluded that women do tend to be displeased with their weight and shape (Grogan,2001). Females also have an inclination to objectify their bodies. When asked about body image ladies are more inclined to have a number of negative remarks, but found it very difficult to find anything positive to say. Females are also constantly encountering unrealistic images from their society about what women should look like. These images influence women to not only doubt their body image but to go to extremes to change it. With this pessimistic mind-set women struggle with low self- esteem which can then lead to depression and other atrocious disorders. There are a number of solutions to these growing issues and it all begins with the mind. A woman must first change her inner reflection, before changing her external reflection.

Living a healthy, disease free, self-assured life style should be vital to all females. The body is what keeps women moving, breathing, laughing, loving, and most importantly living. There are many practical ways to stay healthy mentally and physically, but unfortunately depression and body image are two large obstacles that have to be trounced to achieve these rational goals. To even begin to understand women and body images many different areas of a woman’s life must be examined. From where a woman comes, whom she lives with, where she works, and to who she relates to are very imperative questions that have very significant answers. Every female also has a particular lifestyle that she chooses to lead, whether it is a well maintained, organized, healthy lifestyle, or a chaotic, unhealthy lifestyle. These issues may seem quite meticulous, but must be considered when investigating women and their body image. It is even critical to examine a woman’s state of mind, how she thinks, why she thinks in that particular way, and how her surroundings influence her. These diverse components used to study women help in understanding how body image is perceived. Multiple views from a number of disciplines are key to understanding woman and body image (Repko, 2005). The interdisciplinary approach can facilitate a solution to this multifaceted dilemma.

There are an immense amount of disciplines that can be utilized to inspect and study women and body image. The topic of inner reflection and external body image are such difficult matters to resolve that it requires knowledge from fields such as biology, anthropology, history, environmental studies, economics, religion, advertisement, anatomy and physiology. Though there are probably more disciplines that can aid in exploring women and body image, this paper will focus primarily on women and their society, lifestyle choices, and cognitive approach to their internal and external environment. The three disciplines that will be applied to researching women and body image are sociology, health, and psychology.

Exploring a woman’s society and culture will give an excellent understanding of why women perceive them selves in the way that they do. It is significant to comprehend a woman’s interactions and actions with in a specific social context to identify with her behavior internally and externally (Roth & Wittich, 1968). Exploring a woman’s society and behavior will lead to a reasonable conclusion on why a woman feels the to need look, dress, and act in a particular way. The western culture in particular is known to promote tall, slender, and shapely women in million dollar advertisements (Grogan, 2001). These endorsed images are unrealistic for regular females and it can lead to impractical dieting and cognitive disorders.

Most advantageous living and vitality means that one must first include physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social and environmental wellness as the key components to achieve these goals (Fahey, Insel, & Roth, 2007). In today’s world it is likely that most individuals are lacking in one of these areas. For an individual to have an optimal perception of their body image and a first-class mental state, they must first embrace the many dimensions of health. A woman’s health and emotional state are greatly influenced by the personal choices made and habits that have been formed over time. To study the relationship between women and health would give a number of explanations of why women feel the way they do about their bodies. This study would also provide positive ways a female can change her habits and choose a more wholesome way of life.

An active, positive, mind is essential to a healthy body image, yet so many women struggle with their own thoughts and emotions about the way they look. It is essential to study the cognitive processes that are involved when a woman is making sense of her surroundings and deciding what action might be appropriate (Eysenck, Green, & Hayes, 2001). The way a woman thinks stimulates a lot of different outcomes and behaviors. The cognitive process deals with how a woman feels about her self and the actions that she takes to deal with those particular emotions.

There are many ways that the disciplines in this paper can be studied. Numerous books, journals, and articles will be reviewed to better understand the fullness of each area and how it relates to body image. Surveys, experimental interpretation of data, and interviews are also another technique that can be facilitated when examining different types of females. Suitable peer-reviewed journals will also be discussed as a means to increase in knowledge about the problem.

The objectives of this paper are to explore, study, and express essential information to the female community about body image. Researching and examining these components will assist in solving the growing problem, while also introducing new issues that may need to be considered for review. A number of strategies will be established to promote positive image in women, while trying to eliminate as many harmful influences as possible. The purpose of this paper is to help women abolish all disorders due to body image, and to promote a healthy mental attitude. An optimistic approach to body image is crucial to happiness and wellness.

Background

In the American culture the ideas and perceptions about body image are changing drastically. A woman in this society is constantly being bombarded with unrealistic opinions about her physical appearance and will go to extreme measures to meet these standards. This is not only having an impact on older women but on women of all ages in this society. It was once a very popular idea that only white, middle class women had eating disorders, but today a great deal of Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and African American women are facing the same challenges in the American society. Through time there have been numerous values inflicted on women that imply what is and what is not beautiful. In the past it was very common for women to wear corsets that cut off circulation and breathing, while today we exercise and starve our bodies into a culturally accepted shape. The issue of obesity is another expanding cultural crisis that must be examined because women across America may be slowly killing themselves because of inadequate nutrition and exercise. Body image is one of the most complex, disturbing issues that women face in their already complicated lives and the heartbreaking news is that the number of American women affected by illnesses due to body image has doubled to at least five million in the past three decades (U.S Dept. Of health). There are so may that face this nagging perception of body image but fail to realize that this image can damage their relationship with others, their own eating and exercising habits, as well as their psychological well-being.

The American society is a multifaceted culture with numerous ideas about how an individual should look and behave. The rise in technology has been a huge factor in promoting the media and advertising industry. In this culture the media seem to be promoting unrealistic standards for body weight and appearance and what is being considered normal. Young ladies are introduced to these advertisements and impracticable ideas at very early ages. Barbie for example, emphasizes to a young female how she is suppose to look to be accepted and normal, while if Barbie was blown up to a life size shape she would be 5’9 only weighing 110lbs, which is only 76 percent of what is considered a healthy weight for her height (UCLA). Body image is an issue that does influence the male population as well, but at a much lower rate and in different ways. When men look in the mirror they are much more likely to be satisfied with what they see or just not care. Research indicates that men generally have a more positive reflection of themselves then women (FOX). Due to these results involving men and body image they will not be reviewed in this study. Beauty in this media centered society has become very hard to define and attain, the media’s portrayal of what is typical keeps getting thinner and thinner for women. “Twenty-five years ago, the average female model weighed 8 percent less than the average American woman. Currently, the average female model weighs 23 percent below her average weight” (UCLA).

One of the more serious health challenges that America faces today is achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. Only 35 percent of adult women in the United States are at a healthy weight, while 50 percent are overweight, and 20 percent are considered obese (Fahey, Insel, & Roth, 2007). Obesity has become a growing issue in this society due to poor eating habits, lack of proper exercise, and other issues such as genetics, illness, and the environment that an individual may endure. Obesity is associated with a number of dreadful conditions and diseases such as diabetes, psychological disorders, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and joint pain. In 2005; researchers concluded that obesity kills between 56,000 and 182,500 American women each year (Fahey, Insel, & Roth, 2007). This is an issue that can be challenged and solved through numerous lifestyle changes, but the serious problems dealing with body weight and weight control in America are not limited to excessive body fat. A growing number of women are challenged with disorders in eating habits and patterns such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge- eating. More then 8 million American women have eating disorders due to dissatisfaction with their body image and weight (Fahey, Insel, & Roth, 2007). These dissatisfactions are due to a number of circumstances such as distorted thinking, perfectionist beliefs, self control issues, and a great deal of self criticism. These issues are consuming a widespread among women in the American society and must be eliminated through various techniques.

References

Sociology

Grogan, S. (1991). Body images: Understanding body dissatisfaction in men, women, and children. New York:
New York. Retrieved February 7, 2008, from Google Scholar: http://books.google.com/books?id=G2drfjc8AkIC
&dq=body+image+grogan&pg=PP1&ots=4ZnW8r17CS&sig=5ZxEeq_O8HuJfSN29fG7KV_xhZ0&hl=en&
prev=http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=body+image-+grogan&sa=X&oi=print&ct=title&cad=one-book-with-thumbnail#PPT1,M1

Roth, G., & Wittich, C. (1968). Basic concepts of sociology: Economy and society. Berkley: California.

Health

Fahay, T.D., Insel, P.M., & Roth W.T. (2007). Fit and well: Core concepts and labs in physical fitness and wellness (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Companies.

Psychology

Eysenk, M.W., Green, S., Hayes, N. (2001). Principles of cognitive psychology. Retrieved February 9, 2008, from Google Scholar:

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=9JSx5wNl3E0C&oi=fnd&pg=PR11&dq=
Principles+of+psychology&ots=JwqIYc9BkR&sig=wGhKM8z58sHRNoFjod4d2zgB2FU#PPR12,M1

Additional Resources

Repko, A.F.(2005). Interdisciplinary practice: A student guide to research and writing.

Boston: Pearson

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