You have just bought a new pair of jeans. You think that you look absolutely great in them until you turn on the television or compare yourself to the person on side of you. Today, women all over the world are focused on the way society views them, which has an influence on the way they view themselves. The field known as sociology of the body investigates the ways in which our bodies are affected by our social experiences, as well as by the norms and values of the groups to which we belong (Giddens, Duneier, et al, 2007). Body image is an ideal image of what one’s body looks like or what she wants it to look like.
It can also be defined as the value one may put on physical appearance. This may create severe personal problems such as mental and eating disorders, and it may have an effect on sexual behavior. Unfortunately, this issue is mostly found amongst women. Being that most women have an ideal image of what they would prefer to look like, some of them are willing to do anything to look like the model on the television. For example, many young women become anorexic; they deprive themselves of food and engage in excessive exercise.
To them, they are simply dieting and watching their food intake, but in actuality, they are starving themselves and causing complications within their body. In the United States, there has been a tremendous increase of eating disorders since 1960. This problem is really seen amongst young college females. Although men suffer from eating disorders as well, it is most commonly found in women because of the stress they endure to be physically attractive. This goes back to the idea that society expects women to be petite and slim. On the other hand, men are expected to be muscular and well-developed.
As far as race, black women and white women have different views on body image. African-American women often prefer a larger body type, including curves, thighs, and a butt. According to studies, the typical black woman comes from a culture that is more liberal of weight and is not pressured to be thin (Baugh, 106). However, white women are usually dissatisfied with their figure, and they focus on dieting and regular exercise (Baugh, 106). The way a woman perceives her body also has an effect on her sexual behavior. When thinking of the connection between body image and sexuality, it may seem rather simple.
If you are positive about the way you look, you’re more likely to be more comfortable having sex and may enjoy it much better (Ackard). On the other hand, if you are not pleased with your body, you may abstain from sexual activity. This isn’t always the case; a person with a positive view may still abstain from sex because of religious beliefs or family values. Therefore, it depends on the individual and may have different effects on different people. However, sexual behavior also has an effect on body image. Over the years, feminists and sex educators have worked with women in order to help them obtain positive sexual experiences (Ackard).
They teach women how to sexually satisfy themselves and their partners. The outcome of this was that sexual exploration and sexual behavior can have a positive impact on body image (Ackard). Just as body image is seen as a personal trouble, it is very well a social problem. Body image is also graded by social factors such as gender, social class, and race (Giddens, Duneier, et al, 2007). Women are more likely to suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia than men because of the way society expects them to look. People of lower-class are more likely to deal with obesity than people of upper-class.
For instance, the most fattening foods can be found on the cheap dollar menu at fast food restaurants whereas salads and other healthy foods are more expensive. Of course the people who can’t afford expensive meals will gravitate towards the unhealthy dollar menu. Simultaneously, America promotes gluttony. High-fat food and super-sized meals are plentiful and cheap which will obviously attract someone with a low income (Giddens, Duneier, et al, 2007). In the United States, young females are being consistently influenced by what they see in magazines and on television.
The fashion industry portrays images of models that are underweight, but they depict these women to be the ideal women. According to the textbook, the average fashion model today is twenty-three percent thinner than the average American woman, yet twenty-five years ago that number was eight percent (Giddens, Duneier, et al, 2007). Sociologists take interests in the issue of body image for two reasons. It has a connection to the sociological world. It allows sociologists to study how the social world affects a person’s body, and it also addresses processes of social change (Giddens, Duneier, et al, 2007).