Body image issues for wome.

Essay by mohmoh August 2003

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Body image issues for women

Your body image is how you perceive, think and feel about your body. This may have no bearing at all on your actual appearance. For instance, it is common in Western nations for women to believe they are larger and fatter than they really are. Only one in five women are satisfied with their body weight. Nearly half of all normal weight women overestimate their size and shape. A distorted body image can lead to self-destructive behaviour, like dieting or binge eating. Approximately nine out of 10 young Australian women have dieted at least once in their lives.

Self-destructive behaviour

A poor body image can promote an unhealthy lifestyle. The urge to diet or use other potentially dangerous weight loss methods (such as fasting, smoking or laxatives) is almost always prompted by feeling unhappy with body shape or size. It is well documented that even 'moderate' dieting increases the risk of developing an eating disorder amongst girls.

If a woman feels self-conscious about her appearance, she may avoid exercising because it might mean exposing her body shape to the public eye. Alternatively, she might over exercise in a bid to lose weight quickly. Some studies indicate that a young woman's body image is the single largest influence on her self-esteem. If she thinks she looks unattractive or fat, her self-confidence drops and this can impact on other areas of her life.

A range of causes

Some of the factors that contribute to a negative body image include:

*Being teased about appearance in childhood

*Growing up with dieting parents, or one who was unhappy with their body shape

*A cultural tendency to judge people by their appearance

*Peer pressure among teenage girls to be slim, go on diets and compare themselves with others

*Media and advertising...