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Women & body image. Women & body image. What do these images say to us?. Footbinding in china. This practice started in court circles and spread to the wealthy. Eventually the families of the young girls in the countryside realized it could be a ticket to wealth and social mobility.

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women body image1
Women & body image
  • What do these images say to us?
footbinding in china
Footbinding in china

This practice started in court circles and spread to the wealthy. Eventually the families of the young girls in the countryside realized it could be a ticket to wealth and social mobility.

images of women
Images of women
  • How do we view women’s bodies?
  • Are women judged by their bodies more than men are?
  • What effect do our images of women have on us?
industries profiting from women s bodies
Industries profiting from women’s bodies
  • Hollywood
  • Fashion industry
  • Beauty products
  • Fitness industry
  • Diet industry
  • Cosmetic surgery
celebrity plastic surgery
Celebrity plastic surgery

Do media images of women affect how we see ourselves?

objectification of women
Objectification of women
  • Objectify:
    • To treat or regard as an object
    • To represent an abstraction as a physical thing
  • Sexual objectification
    • Occurs when a woman’s sexual parts or functions are separated out from her person
    • Or when they are regarded as REPRESENTING HER
objectification theory
Objectification theory
  • Women routinely experience sexual objectification through their life experiences and gender socialization
  • Conditions girls and women to
    • Regard and treat themselves as objects
    • Evaluate themselves based on bodily appearance
self objectification
  • Internalization of observer’s perspective
  • Causes “body surveillance”
    • Increases shame and anxiety about appearance
    • Decreases awareness of internal body states
    • Decreases experience of peak motivational states
  • Increases risk for
    • Eating disorders
    • Depression
    • Sexual dysfunction
fashion industry
Fashion industry
  • Today’s plus-sized models are between women’s sizes 6 and 14
  • Nearly half of US women are size 14 or larger
  • Fashion models are usually size 0
exporting objectification
Exporting objectification
  • Eating disorders were relatively uncommon outside of the US until the mid-80’s and 90’s
  • Rates are increasing as globalization increases
  • Starts among the affluent and spreads to lower socioeconomic classes
  • Japan, Germany, Korea, Fiji are examples
young girls adolescents
Young girls &adolescents
  • By age 6, many girls wish to be thinner than they are
  • May have already attempted to diet
  • Influenced by both peer groups and media
young girls adolescents1
Young girls &adolescents

Body dissatisfaction in young girls increases risk for:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Dieting behaviors
  • Eating disorders
  • Obesity
  • Depression
child beauty pageants
Child beauty pageants
  • For-profit, one of the fastest-growing industries in the US
  • Grosses over $5 billion annually
  • Girls can start as soon as they can sit up on their own
  • Images of sexualized young girls are increasingly common
  • Progressively younger girls are being depicted
  • Tension is between the cultural taboo and female power to provoke sexual desire
women of color
Women of color
  • Historically, African American and Latina women have been more accepting of larger body types
  • This trend is reversing with increased influence of mass media
  • Women of color in the media usually conform closely to the white beauty ideal
  • Latina women are especially heavy consumers of beauty products
disabled women
Disabled women
  • Truly invisible in the media
  • Must deal with psychological assault of social stigmatization
  • Comparison to the ideal often leads to negative body image
  • Can contribute to increased anxiety, depression, and impaired self-concept
  • Contributes to change in social role perception
  • Often leads to increased feelings of body satisfaction
  • Many women are dissatisfied with their weight and shape during the postpartum period
  • Prior to the 1980’s, public breastfeeding was considered a form of indecent exposure
  • Sexual objectification of women and the breast lead to hostile attitudes toward breastfeeding in public
  • Women who score higher in self-objectification are less likely to breastfeed their infants
older women
Older women
  • Age-related changes
    • Change in body fat distribution
    • Decreased skin elasticity and wrinkles
    • Chronic health problems
  • People typically gain about 10 lb. per decade of life—associated with lower mortality
older women1
Older women
  • “Double standard” of aging
  • Body image increasingly related to ability and less to appearance
  • Body dissatisfaction is similar among older and younger women
  • Negative impact is less

Are advertising and media depictions of women unethical?

How can we insulate our young people from the media’s negative effects?

Is this an individual or community responsibility?


Is the forum of a beauty pageant the best way to address the invisibility of disabled women?

Is this empowering and barrier-breaking, or just encouraging more objectification?

  • What is the role of the ubiquitous media images of the idealized version of a western woman?
  • How do western ideals of “freedom” come into play?
  • Does exporting our values help or hurt women in other cultures?
  • Body Image - The Media Lies - Our Bodies Ourselves. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2012, from http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book/excerpt.asp?id=2
  • Breakey, J. W. (1997). Body image: the inner mirror. JPO: Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics, 9(3), 107.
  • Children and Beauty Pageants. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2012, from http://www.minorcon.org/pageants.html
  • Disabled women plan to shake up Australia’s Next Top Model. (n.d.).Where I Live. Retrieved from http://penrith-press.whereilive.com.au/news/story/disabled-women-plan-to-shake-up-australia-s-next-top-model/
  • Dohnt, H. K., & Tiggemann, M. (2006). Body image concerns in young girls: The role of peers and media prior to adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35(2), 135–145.
  • Efron, S. (1997). Women’s eating disorders go global. Los Angeles, CA: Times.
  • Johnston‐Robledo, I., & Fred, V. (2008). Self‐objectification and lower income pregnant women’s breastfeeding attitudes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 38(1), 1–21. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2008.00293.x
  • Girls just wanna have fun. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2012, from http://webpages.scu.edu/ftp/kmarume/the%20beauty%20myth.htm
  • Kessler, K. (2010). Self-objectification, body image, eating behaviors, and exercise dependence among college females. University of North Texas. Retrieved from http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30477/m1/15/
  • Kite, L. (2011, February 28). Beauty Whitewashed: How White Ideals Exclude Women of Color | BEAUTY REDEFINED. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from http://www.beautyredefined.net/beauty-whitewashed-how-white-ideals-exclude-women-of-color/
  • Liechty, T., Yarnal, C., & others. (2010). The role of body image in older women’s leisure. Journal of Leisure Research, 42(3), 443–467.
  • Loth, K. A., Bauer, K. W., Wall, M., Berge, J., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2011). Body satisfaction during pregnancy. Body Image.
  • Martin, C. L., & Baugh, E. J. (2011, April 26). Minority women, media, and body image. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1135
  • Moradi, B., & Huang, Y.-P. (2008). Objectification theory and psychology of women: A decade of advances and future directions. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 32(4), 377–398. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.2008.00452.x
  • Painful memories for China’s footbinding survivors. (2007, March 19).NPR.org. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=8966942
  • Pruis, T. A., & Janowsky, J. S. (2010). Assessment of body image in younger and older women. The Journal of General Psychology: Experimental, Psychological, and Comparative Psychology, 137(3), 225–238.