Gender difference and body image
Negative Body Image amongst Women
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, binge eating or anorexia nervosa.
Some factors contributing to negative body image amongst women 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 images promoting thinness as the ideal; a tendency in women’s media to push fad diets and weight loss programs.
Negative Body Image amongst Men
It’s estimated that about 45% of Western men are unhappy with their bodies to some degree, compared with only 15% some 25 years ago. Unlike women who desire to appear thinner, men worry about being muscular. 1 in 10 anorexics is now male, while 4 per cent of men are purging (vomiting) and about 3 percent of men are binge eaters. Negative body image is also leading to excessive exercise and steroid abuse in order to fit the ideal masculine image of muscularity.
'S'ome factors contributing to negative body image amongst men include: teasing in childhood and adolescence (for being too thin, too weak or too fat); peer pressure among teenage boys to be tough and strong; acultural tendency to judge people on their appearance; the emphasis on male sports players as role models for boys; advertising campaigns and media coverage featuring idealised male images; promotion by society of the ideal man as always being strong, lean and muscular.
Self-Perception and Peer influence on Body Image
In a 2006 study of observed eating behavior in a social setting, young men and women who perceived their bodies as being less than "ideal" ate differing amounts of food after they were shown images of "ideal-bodied" people of their own gender. The study concluded that "in the presence of same-gender peers, certain women eat less and certain men eat more following exposure to ideal-body images -- 'certain' in this case referring to women and men who have discrepancies between their actual body and the kind of body they think their peers idealize."
"In a nutshell," Harrison (the lead researcher) said, "we found that, following exposure to ideal-body images, men who are insecure about their bodies eat more in front of other men, while women who are insecure about their bodies eat less in front of other women."
In another study conducted amongst black American university students, the researchers of Johns Hopkins University found that only 39% of males who were overweight perceived themselves as overweight compared with 68% of overweight females. Eighty percent of females and 63% of males expressed some body size dissatisfaction. Fewer obese males (38%) perceived a risk for disease due to their weight compared with obese females (64%), p?0.01. Males perceived greater impact than females of their weight on social interactions, with extremely obese males perceiving the greatest impact.