Adolescents Perception of their bodies: Shaped by Institutions and Groups

Essay by RobyngoodA, February 2004

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Presently, in North American culture females and males are influenced and shape their lifestyles around popular institutions. They view their bodies based upon the values and norms of multiple institutions. However, adolescents receive more pressure from institutions and groups. Institutions tell adolescents how they should feel about there self in their culture and are told by institutions how to look and view their bodies. Adolescents are influenced greatly by the institutions around them rather than ones that they are rarely exposed to. Groups, traditional and emergent social institutions influence adolescents.

The influence institutions and groups have on adolescents is not new. The values institutions have placed upon an ideal body, however, has changed over the years. At one point in time females were influenced to have a slender, but curvaceous body and then it transformed into a slim figure. Males have also had pressure to be built these pressures have increased.

Presently, intuitions place importance on an increasingly slim fit figure for females and a rippled muscular body for men.

The main institutions that influence adolescents the most are emergent social institutions. The mass media plays the most important role in the image adolescents view and feel about their bodies. Popular culture promotes a slim figure for women without imperfections and a muscular body for men. Many children and teenagers start to feel dissatisfaction towards their bodies because the ideals of the mass media are unattainable. Children young as two or three start to be conditioned on what an ideal body is. Girls spend countless hours playing with their idol Barbie, who has the perfect body and face. Boys play with action figures such as G.I Joe who have steroid-enhanced bodies. Girls are pressured by the media to be as small as possible. In a study the researchers found girls...