Body image is the way a person feels about their body. It might or might not be closely linked to the actual attributes of the physical body. The way a person feels about their body is closely related to their self-esteem and level of satisfaction with their body. Those that are concerned with their weight also tend to have lower self-esteem. Those that are not happy with their body image develop lower self-esteem and confidence over time. Sociocultural pressures are reinforced by the mass media that promoted the idea that one must conform to a certain body image. Those that fail to conform to the prescribed body image are viewed as unacceptable by society, which increases a person’s level of body dissatisfaction. This research will focus on the mediating effect of being in a long term relationship on body image and self-esteem. It will explore the impact of being in a long term relationship has an effect on body satisfaction and on self-esteem.
The study of body image and body satisfaction has been a major topic for researchers for quite some time. Young girls between the ages of 12 to 18 are particularly susceptible to the effects of the messages that are sent by the mass media. As a result, many girls this age develop body satisfaction and self-esteem issues. They have the perception that an unrealistic body image is the norm. It suspected that certain factors promote these ideas regarding self-esteem body image, while others serve as protective factors and prevent the formation of low self-esteem. Understanding how promoting factors and protective factors work to mediate body image and self-esteem in adolescent girls will help researchers to develop ways to improve body image and self-esteem in adolescent girls.
A significant amount of research has been devoted to the study of self-esteem and its relationship to body image in adolescent girls. The main focus of the research has been on finding ways to protect adolescent girls from the damaging effects of the messages contained in the mass media. Self-esteem is the “positive or the negative attitude towards… the self”. Self-esteem is the most widely used indicator of well-being in Western culture.
Culture was found to play a role as a mediating effect in the connection between body image and self-esteem. Girls in western society were found to be affected more than in other cultures. In the study, adolescent girls in the U.K. between the ages of 11 to 16 years old were exposed to average-size and ultra-thin models in magazines. The ultra-thin models had an effect on lowering body satisfaction in the study population. Body image is considered to be one of the most important elements in self-evaluation and in the evaluation of others among adolescent girls. Self-esteem is major problem for adolescent girls growing up in mass consumer societies. The mass media is making a big impact on self-worth among the female population, with body image representing a major cultural determinant of female beauty.
The connection between body dissatisfaction that is promoted by the mass media and the “thin ideals” encourage restrained eating behaviors that have detrimental health effects on the women. Poor body image is connected to the development of eating disorders and other psychological issues. These eating disorders can create changes in the genetic material that can have a lasting effect on body image. Puberty and sexual abuse can have a compounding effect on body image issues.
Research has found that television depicts females that are 20% underweight and that approximately 76% of the female role models are underweight. This sets the standard for female attractiveness and encourages women to lose unhealthy amounts of weight to meet those standards. The body image portrayed in the mass media has become steadily smaller with time. Nearly half of the female beauty icons presented in the mass media met the criteria for anorexia nervosa. This has been correlated with an increase in the prevalence of eating disorders among society, all for the sake of having the “ideal body” as presented by the mass media. No clear distinction was found between men and women in terms of body dissatisfaction. There are just as many men who are dissatisfied with their body image as women. This is not only a problem that affects women, but this study will use a female population and will be limited to the effects of the mass media and body image as it pertains to women. This creates a bias that only affects women and the way they are expected to view their bodies, even though this research indicates that the problem with body image is not gender based, as the media portrays.
The mass media has been found to play a major role in the formation of societal ideals regarding body image and attractiveness. In turn, these ideals have become the sociocultural norms that dictate society. The influence of the mass media n regarding the pressure placed on women to have the perfect body has been increasing over the years. Self-esteem was found to be a factor in the ability to form relationships with others.
The literature supports the basic premise for the research that that the messages sent by the mass media have a detrimental effect on body image and self-esteem. It also supports that adolescents are at the greatest risk for the development of these issues. Poor body image can lead to the development of serious eating disorders that can have lasting effects. The literature also supports the connection between self-esteem and the ability to form relationships with others. However, the connection between mass media images in relation to self-esteem and the ability to form relationships was found to be a gap. This research will fill in this gas in the literature to bring a better understanding of the connection between media images of women, body satisfaction, and the ability to form long term relationships.
Media images play an important role in the lives of girls during the adolescent years, but so do social relationships. The media presents women of a certain body type as being more attractive to the opposite sex. Those that do not meet this body image are portrayed as undesirable. This research will explore the problem of whether being in a long term relationship has a mediating effect on the body image and self-esteem in adolescent girls. It will do so by comparing body image and self-esteem in girls who are not in a relationship with those who are in a relationship of between 1-2 years.
This research will be limited to the analysis of the level of confidence and self-esteem between adolescent girls who are in a committed relationship and those who are not. This research will not consider other factors that might have an effect on body image. For instance, it does not consider mental health factors, such as depression, that might have an effect on the outcome of the study. It will only consider the level of confidence within the relationships and the level of stability in those that are in committed relationships.
This study depends on the definition of several key terms in the understanding of this study. These terms have generally accepted definitions that are borrowed from the field of psychology. The following terms will be used in the conduct of this study.
The objective of the study is to determine if body image satisfaction is correlated to being in a long term relationship. This research will explore the level of confidence in those who are in a long term relationship and in those who are not in a committed relationship. The objective of the study will be to explore the causal factor of the relationship between being in a long-term committed relationship and the potential for higher body satisfaction and self-stem in those research participants. The study will explore whether a causal factor exists between long term relationships and higher levels of body image and self-esteem, but it will not explore the direction of the causality.
This study will play an important role in understanding the relationship between real-world relationships and the mediating effect that they have on the images presented by the mass media. It will explore the extent of the impact of the messages sent by the mass media regarding the acceptability of the adolescent girl’s body image. The images presented by the mass media are generally considered to be unrealistic and detrimental to the psyche of girl. Toys such as Barbie promote an unrealistic standard. This research is important because it will explore the scope of the damage done by the mass media to the body image of the girls. The study will not explore the direction of causality, but it will examine the magnitude of the damage that has been done to the young women regarding their self-image and feelings about their femininity.