Friday, December 02, 2005

Body Image in Society

Marie Claire, Glamour, Vogue, Stuff, any popular magazine and you'll find physical images, which for many, are impossible to obtain. The question more is, why?

Centuries ago, bodies shapes were much different then they are today. Women were voluptuous. Hips, bellies, name it, every body part was fleshy. Men were not "shredded" muscle with veins popping-out from their negative 1% body fat*. Body image is ever changing and involves our perception, imagination, emotions, and physical sensations of and about our bodies. However, these perceptions are learned by family and peers, and what is expected culturally.

In present-day American culture, we have two extreme sides to body includes 'skeletal' women and testosterone-filled 36" 'bicep' men, the other is the obese. There seems to be a loss of moderation and in this new societal image of extremes, lies a serious health danger on both sides of the spectrum.

Research indicates that exposure to images of thin, young, air-brushed female bodies is linked to depression, loss of self-esteem and the development of unhealthy eating habits in women and girls. The Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute warns that weight control measures are being taken by girls as young as nine. American statistics are similar. In 2003, Teen magazine reported that 35 per cent of girls 6 to 12 years old have been on at least one diet, and that 50 to 70 per cent of normal weight girls believe they are overweight.

Participants of a study included 158 male college students who were required to view television ads flooded with very tone, muscle-defined men, often without their shirts. Results of the study showed that the men watching these commercials felt more unhappiness and depression, compared to the students who took part in watching the "neutral" commercials. The study also suggested that the "ideal male body" portrayed in the media was linked to negative feelings toward body image in men.

The American research group Anorexia Nervosa & Related Eating Disorders, Inc. says that one out of every four college-aged women uses unhealthy methods of weight control-including fasting, skipping meals, excessive exercise, laxative abuse, and self-induced vomiting. Steroid use is still common among young men and now studies show, also among young get that edge, competitively and to decrease body fat. Many turn to "quick" fix over-the-counter pills and powders to help. GNC reported $322.6 million in revenue so far this year (Pittsburgh 11/4/2005).

Why are standards of beauty being imposed on women and men? The roots, some analysts say, are economic. By presenting an ideal difficult to achieve and maintain, the cosmetic and diet product industries are assured of growth and profits. It is estimated that the diet industry alone is worth $100 billion (U.S.) a year. This does not include various pharmaceutical medications to treat obesity and depression.

Billboards, commercials, movies, magazines.everywhere you look, you are surrounded by a socially accepted body image on display. Ever been to Times Square in New York City? If you are feeling full of self-esteem, go there, you will feel completely inadequate within seconds. Huge ads plaster the buildings of "beautiful" people scantily dressed. Some are not even dressed! And we wonder why there is such an enormous increase in emotional and physiological disorders.treating the collage of conditions with various medications.

SSRI's are now the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant drugs. This group includes: Wellbutrin, Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa, Lexapro, Effexor, Serzone, Remeron, Elavil, Norpramin, Tofranil, Aventyl, and Pamelor...did I miss any? According to recent estimates, family physicians now write 60-70 percent of the prescriptions for antidepressants, even though most are not specifically trained to diagnose and treat mental health illnesses. This gives pharmaceutical companies even more avenues to get you to take their so-called "miracle drugs" so you can feel better about yourself.

Don't even get me started on the fast food industry...I love McDonald's new commercials and ads. They feature slender young women all happy to eat their McDonald's salad. Sure, go to McDonald's and buy one, then pour the high calorie and fatty salad dressing on it and drink it down with either a milkshake or high-sugar soda. That will work! You will look like them in no time!

Whether we fill our bodies with quick-fix supplements the size of horse pills or high fat and caloric processed and fast foods, we are seriously damaging our bodies not just physically, but emotionally. And big business is reaping the benefits.

* I realize this is impossible...just being sarcastic...again!

Note: This rant is not stating that body image is soley determined by society nor does is say that it is the sole factor that causes depression. There are many external factors that affect both. The idea is the society's perception is a very plausible influence and that influence, in many ways, can affect people both physically and emotionally.

1 comment:

Celexa Side Effects said...

My name is Daniel Wilson and i would like to show you my personal experience with Celexa.

I am 27 years old. I took this drug on and off for 3 years (2 years on, 1 off). It definetely helped my anxiety. The major side effect was the weight gain. Trying the new version (Lexapro) now. I'm hoping it will have better side effects.

I have experienced some of these side effects-
Weight Gain, diarrhea.

I hope this information will be useful to others,
Daniel Wilson