Body Image: How You See It, How You Don`t
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
JESTES, D. A. (1999). Body Image: How You See It, How You Don`t. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 2. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved June 29, 2017 .

Body Image: How You See It, How You Don`t
DUSTY A. JESTES
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PYSCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
ABSTRACT
Henry David Thoreau once stated that the perception of beauty is a moral task. Does this make the perceptions we create accurate and on target? Probably not. However, the image that individuals create for themselves is of definite interest. Our society is obsessed with the weight and shape of their bodies, especially in women. Therefore, do women have lower body satisfaction than men, or is this concept one that has become out dated? Findings from the surveys in this study indicated that female body image satisfaction is not significantly different from their male counterparts (F (1, 96)= 1.087, p = .30). It seems as if the times may be changing, as body images of both males and females are becoming more similar.

INTRODUCTION
Mirror, mirror on the wall…who`s the thinnest, prettiest, strongest, best looking, most perfect of them all? While the answer to this question may be tough for a mirror to decipher, today`s society seems to have the answer, as there are certain expectations everyone must live up to. Many are left wondering who sets these standards that are so difficult to achieve. Apparently, the answer is a combination of the individual, their peers, and the community in which they live. Are you happy with what you see in the mirror? Body image refers to the attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs that an individual holds about their physical appearance. Research on body image examines a number of aspects of an individual`s feelings about their physical self, such as the person`s overall satisfaction with their body, or their opinions on various body parts (Abell & Richards, 1996). It is a combination of these things, added in with how the person views others as seeing them, that leads to the development of their body image. This image will have an enormous affect on an individual`s life ranging from self-esteem, personal happiness, and health. Dolan (as cited in Sanders & Heiss, 1996) asserts that body image is dictated by the surrounding culture, and that this culture communicates the norms for body weight, size, shape, and physical attractiveness. Cultural norms and values set the stage for what is accepted or for what is not accepted. For instance, in westernized culture, only a limited range of body shapes is acceptable (Grogan, Williams, & Conner, 1996). Apparently, the preferred body type has gone from the voluptuous endomorphic look of the 1950`s and 1960`s, to the lanky ectomorphic look, which is very hard to obtain for most women. Men, too, have felt the change of time as washboard abs, silky skin, and massive muscles have emerged as the forerunner in body shape distinction. It seems that from childhood, men and women are besieged with media images that shape our thoughts and perceptions and urge us into conformity to gain acceptance by society. Furthermore, emphasis on physical appearance and body type is prevalent even in children`s television commercials, and popular teen magazines heavily emphasize fashion, beauty, and stereotypical gender roles (Turner, Hamilton, Jacobs, Angood, & Dwyer, 1997). Thus, it seems that these ideas fester in children, especially females, and lead to a strong desire to measure up to what is idealized, so as to fit in and feel good about themselves.Frederickson and Roberts (1997) argue that girls and women (at least in American cultures) tend to see themselves through a veil of sexism, measuring their self-worth by evaluating their physical appearance against our culture`s sexually objectifying and unrealistic standards of beauty. For instance, the media often portrays women as a body with no face, while heads and faces are used to portray men. This in-depth focusing on the body can have serious impact on women because of a correlation between body image and self-esteem. Women are assaulted by notions about what they should look like in magazines, in advertisements, and by those around them in our society, much more often than are men. In fact, researchers have argued that when me are faced with idealized male images they may not react with body dissatisfaction as a woman would (Grogan, Williams, & Conner, 1996).Once we get past outside influences on our body images we must look within. Comparing ourselves to others is a habitual part of life, as we are critical and competitive creatures by nature. Competition among individuals is often positive, but in the case of body image, it can be grueling and detrimental. We tend to regard physical attractiveness as a status symbol, a procedure that begins when we enter elementary school. For example, the children who are attractive are often most popular. This engrained notion seems to carry on throughout life as we continue to strive to meet the standards and be "popular." Self-esteem is also one factor that comes from within the individual and has strong repercussions. Uncertainty about ones body can lead to lowered self-esteem for both males as well as females. Self-esteem is how an individual views him or herself both internally and externally. It is an individuals overall self-evaluation or sense of self-worth. Researchers have actually found that women who express greater dissatisfaction with their weight and body shape tend to have lower self-esteem scores than others with a more healthy body image scores, even more than men with lower scores (Turner et al., 1997). In American society, fat is considered synonymous with bad (Monteath & McCabe, 1997). Thus, a negative stereotype exists in our culture. This belief places heavy strain on many to struggle to change their bodies. However, if a person`s body fat percentage falls below a certain point, they are in serious danger of illness or death. For women this point is below 22% at which time they become more susceptible to infertility, amenorria, ovarian and edometrial cancer, and osteoporosis (Turner et al., 1997). In general, women want to be more slim than they are even when they are at or below ideal weight according to objective measurements (Goldberg, Bailey, Lenart, & Koff, 1996). Which means that even if an individual has a body that is acceptable in terms of society; they often feel as if they are still not good enough. Negative body image is a real problem that affects women to a greater degree than men, mostly because women are placed under greater pressure to live up to the "ideal" beauty standards of our culture (Rieves & Cash, 1996). However, little research has been done on male body image, and its impact on men. Women are far more likely to be the sole subjects of any studies that pertain to the body satisfaction or anything related to it. For years men have been neglected and women bombarded with help books, diets, and other types of materials that manufactured to mold shape them into perfect creatures. Yet over the years men have felt the added pressure to look good and have bodies that are more streamlined than those of the past. The desired body is now a mesomorphic physique, as brawn has become popular.Do men really have higher body images than women do in our present society? That is a question that desperately needs to be evaluated today as the times have changed. It has become obvious that men are feeling the pressure to conform and search for "perfection" just as women have for many long years. Today images like those seen on television shows like Baywatch are affecting both sexes and altering their perceptions of what is acceptable for a body to look like. What is the perfect body…it may not be the one you covet.Henry David Thoreau once stated that the perception of beauty is a moral task. Does this make the perceptions we create accurate and on target? Probably not. However, the image that individuals create for themselves is of definite interest. Our society is obsessed with the weight and shape of their bodies, especially in women. Therefore, do women have lower body satisfaction than men, or as questioned above, is this concept one that has become out dated? The purpose of my study is to determine just that. Who has the higher body image in today`s world, the men or the women, or has it all leveled off since past experiments and become parallel? I also want to determine if being forced to consider individual body parts has more affect on ones perception of their bodies than a general body image survey would have.


METHOD

PARTICIPANTS
The participants in this study on body image were approximately 50 male and 50 female subjects living in the Residence Halls at Missouri Western State College. The participants were separated by their gender and broken down into subgroups, with approximately 25 subjects in each group.

MATERIALS
I used two separate surveys in this project, one with general body image questions to tabulate overall body image and another that inquired about the satisfaction of individual body parts before asking about overall image. Thus, one survey was very general and the other very specific (individual body parts). The specific body parts satisfaction scale was adapted from Ellen Berscheid and Others taken from (1987)Psychology Today, 55, 889-97. The general questions were taken from former undergraduate research. I took into consideration the last question, which was the same on both surveys. (See Appendix 1 & 2)

PROCEDURE
I collected my data by surveying 100 students living in the Residence Halls at MWSC. I randomly chose to knock on every third door, and asked that at least two students from each suite/apartment would fill out my survey. I computed my statistics using a 2X2 ANOVA on the SPSS program on the basis of gender and the type of questionnaire that the subject received. I used the data that resulted to determine whether males or females had a higher body image, and whether or not taking the survey that singled out individual body parts had more affect on body image than did the general survey.


RESULTS
A 2X2 ANOVA was calculated comparing the effects of subject sex (male or female) and the type of survey given (general or specific body part questions) on overall body image. The main effect for sex of the subject was not significant (F (1, 96)= 1.087, p = .30). There was no main effect for the type of survey given (F (1, 96)= 1.087, p = .30). The final calculation showed no interaction between the sex of the subject and the type of survey the subject was given (F (1, 96)= .121, p = .729). Thus, it appears that neither the sex of the subject nor the type of survey given had any significant effects on body image in this study.


DISCUSSION
In this study it became evident that sex did not play a significant role in determining an individuals overall body image as predicted. In past research, it seemed that women were placed under greater pressure to live up to a certain body standard, thus, creating lower body images. Yet, the results in this study have lent some truth to the theory that differences between the sexes are leveling off. As the times change, so to does perception of body image. As mentioned earlier, previous research would have us all believe that women are suffering at the hands of a society that focuses on body image. However, as time goes by, it seems that both sexes may be feeling the pressure. The second variable, type of survey given, also fell short of being significant. It was thought that being asked specific body part questions would directly impact body image satisfaction, as the subject would have to rank their entire body before deciding their overall satisfaction. It is possible that the answer section should have been more detailed and specific to really force the subject to think about before answering overall body satisfaction. Future researchers should take into consideration the external variables that effect body image, and create questions that encompass or account for them. This is where the limitations to this survey arose. All aspects of interest were rendered insignificant after calculation of the ANOVA. One possible reason for this occurrence could have been the type and format of the questions used in the two surveys. If the questions had been altered in such a way to cover all aspects and factors involved in determining body image the results may have been different.


REFERENCES
Abell, S.C. & Richards, M.H. (1996). The relationship between body shape satisfaction and self-esteem: An Investigation of gender and class differences. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 25, 691-703.Grogan, S.; Williams, Z. & Conner, M. (1996). The effects of viewing same-gender photographic models on body-esteem. Psychology of Women`s Quarterly, 20, 569-575.Monteath, S.A. & McCabe, M. P. (1997). The influence of societal factors on the female body image. Journal of Social Psychology, 137, 708-727. Sanders, N. M. & Heiss, C.J. (1998). Eating attitudes and body image of Asian and Caucasian college women. Eating Disorders, 6, 15-27.Turner, S.L.; Hamilton, H.; Jacobs, M.; Angood, L.M. & Dwyer, D.H. (1997). The influence of fashion magazines on the body image satisfaction of college women: An explanatory analysis. Adolescence, 603-614.


APPENDIX 1
BODY IMAGE 1

**How satisfied are you with the way your body looks?

1) How satisfied are you with the shape of your body? Never Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often Always

2) How confident are you with your body? Never Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often Always

3) How concerned are you with your weight? Never Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often Always

4) Do you weigh yourself often or try and control your weight? Never Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often Always

5) Do you wish to change the shape of parts of your body? Never Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often Always

6) Do you feel that your body shape is a disadvantage to you; socially, athletically, sexually, etc.? Never Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often Always

7) Do you exercise frequently in order to alter your body shape? Never Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often Always

8) Have you ever felt discontent or ashamed of your body build? Never Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often Always 9) Do you worry about how toned and firm your muscles are, or how strong you may be? Never Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often Always

10) Do you feel like you are physically fit? Never Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often Always

11) Have you ever compared your body to another male/female and been upset or disappointed? Never Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often Always

12) Do try to avoid situations where people could see your body (swimming pools, locker rooms, fitting rooms)? Never Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often Always

13) Have you ever been self conscious of your body around members of the opposite sex? Never Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often Always

14) When evaluating your own body, what rank would you give yourself on a scale of 1-10?1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

15) How would you describe yourself?Underweight Slightly Underweight Average Slightly Overweight Very Overweight

16) How satisfied are you with your overall body appearance?

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied SEX: Male Female

.


APPENDIX 2
BODY PARTS/BODY IMAGE 2

**How satisfied are you with the way your body looks?

1) Height:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

2) Weight:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

3) Hair:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

4) Eyes:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

5) Ears:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

6) Nose:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

7) Mouth:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

8) Teeth:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

9) Voice:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

10) Chin:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

11) Complexion:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

12) Overall Facial Attractiveness:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

13) Shoulders:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

14) Chest (males), Breast (females):

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied15) Arms:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

16) Hands:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

17) Size of Abdomen:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

18) Buttocks (seat):

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

19) Size of Sex Organs:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

20) Appearance of Sex Organs:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

21) Hips (upper thighs):

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

22) Legs and Ankles:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

23) Feet:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

24) General Muscle Tone or Development:

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

25) How satisfied are you with your overall body appearance?

Extremely Satisfied Quite Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Quite Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied

SEX: Male Female


Figure 1

Submitted 4/28/99 1:45:26 PM
Last Edited 5/3/99 2:07:31 PM
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