Body Image: Historical Background

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Body imaging has been prevalent throughout the centuries. The different type of body imaging has changed and changed back. A person’s body image is the way they view their physical self. Some of the body images have started or caused issues, for example different types of eating disorders as well as other damage to the person’s body.

Keywords: body image, anorexia, sexy, slim, health

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Body Image

To start off this essay, I don’t have any body image issues and I don’t know anyone who has body image issues. To start, what is body image? A person’s body image is the way they view their physical self. Body image has been an ever-changing thing throughout the centuries.

From Ancient Egypt to the 1700s

In ancient Egypt they celebrated and sexualized women whom where slender, had narrow shoulders, and a high waist. Ancient Greece worshiped the male body and the women needed to be plump, full-bodies, and fair-skinned. In the 1400s to 1700s women’s ideal body was to have an ample bosom, full hips, and light hair; they were to echo their husband status. The 1800s to the 1900s brought in the corset, desiring women to have a full figure and a cinched waist using tight-fitting undergarments to give the desired hourglass figure.

20th Century

In the 20th century the change in body image shifted to athletic and slender bodies. The media played a major role in the promoting the slim factor in the fashions of women. Fashion garments where replaced by diet and exercise. In the 1900s eating disorders became more prevalent. The 1920s saw a drastic change in the body imaging of women. The ideal body type was a flat chest short hair, and a boyish figure. 1930 to 1950 the hourglass figure was back along with large breasts, curves, and a slim waist. The 1960s gave more emphasis on long, slim legs; long, sexy legs where to be shown off.

1960s and 1970s Eating Disorders

In the 1960s and 1970s anorexia nervosa that required hospital admission grew significantly. The relationship between body image issues and eating disorders may have developed as a result of people having body image issues. When a person struggles with body image issues, they do not see themselves as others do. In fact, they do not see themselves as they really are. This can make them strive for ideals that do not balance with reality. Negative body image issues often lead to eating disorders and other issues. A negative body image, on the other hand, involves a distorted perception for one’s shape.

1980s Workout

The 1980s created an exercise spectacle. Super models were the craze in movies and magazines. They were athletic, curvy, tall, and had muscular arms. Workout videos made by different super models where very popular and encourage women to be thin and fit. In the 1990s obesity was shown in the media as a major health problem. The media depicted that extreme thinness was to be celebrated, while saying larger bodies where unhealthy.

2016 to 2019

From 2016 to 2019 all body types are being celebrated, in ways of modeling and social media. The media is depicting that women that have a larger body type are beautiful and fashion is showing they can be considered sexy. A big buttock is shown in the media as being sexy and a wonderful thing to have. Songs have been made that celebrate a woman having a big ‘booty’.

Negative body image (or body dissatisfaction) involves feelings of shame, anxiety, and self-consciousness. People who experience high levels of body dissatisfaction feel their bodies are flawed in comparison to others, and these folks are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and eating disorders. Also, if a person suffers from personality problems, such as low self-esteem, these can affect their body image, too. Unfortunately, when body image is not realistic, even reaching weight goals or other expectations does not satisfy the urge to change. When you suffer body image problems, even being at a healthy weight appears too overweight to you. Someone with an eating disorder that leads to excessive weight loss does not see the reality in their reflection. What has not been mentioned in fashions of the past is that the different body images through the centuries have caused different types of body imaging disorders that caused minor to severe damage to the person’s body.


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