Impact of Body Image
What is body image
What is body image and who it affects
Body image can be described as a
representation of how individuals think and feel about their own physical
attributes (1). A poor body image can cause many negative psychological and
physical effects (2). Western culture today has an obsession with being thin.
Such body image ideals are the reason for one in three 10-14 year old girls
being restricting their food intake (3). Also, girls of average weight have
been found to be almost as likely to be on a diet as their overweight peers
An obsession with being thin is
becoming apparent earlier in childhood. Many studies have routinely found that
large proportions of elementary school students are dissatisfied with their
bodies (3), other studies, including one from Australia, has found body image
ideals to be apparent in children aged six to seven years (6). Forty percent of six
year olds have also indicated that they have tried to loose weight (4).
Negative Effects of a Poor Body Image
The previous statistics are important considering the negative effects of poor body image are as followed:
A poor body image has been related
The onset of depression
Eating disorders such as bulimia
Poor development of interpersonal
Negative self-esteem/self worth
Unhealthy exercise regimes
The issue of body image and its
effect on individuals is complex as many multitudes of factors are involved (6).
There have been, however, consistent findings that children who have a poor
body image experience more frequent feelings of depression and anxiety (3).
Also, depressive symptoms are linked to large body mass, body dissatisfaction,
dieting, and bulimic behaviour. Appearance is central to the evaluation of
oneself and others in Western culture, which goes to explain how a poor body
image can relate to depression (7). Depression amongst adolescents has also
been associated with suicide, anxiety disorders, disruptive behaviour disorders
and substance abuse (7).
image is only recently becoming recognized in pre-pubescent children.
Statistics tell us that children as young as six and five associate thinness as
good, this is therefore an issue which needs attention seeing as a restrictive
diet at an age where vast development is occurring can cause a great deal of
negative consequences on children’s physical and mental development and learning
(3). The ability to learn is greatly effected by a poor nutritional diet as
hunger can affect children’s attention, alertness, energy, motivation,
concentration and self-discipline (8).
Consequences such as depression, poor physical or mental development, poor self
esteem, and eating disorders have an effect not only in childhood, but
throughout ones entire life. It has been found that adolescents who report
bulimic behaviour have a fifteen-fold increase in the risk of being diagnosed
with bulimia ten years later (9). Therefore, children who display patterns of
eating disorders are much more likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder
later in life.
Our perceived body image impacts upon our sense of self and our degree of confidence in social situations. Hence, poor body image can result in poor development of social skills and social relations in children which can leave a life long negative impact (10).
 (Morrison et al, 2004)
 (Davison & McCabe, 200; Birbeck, 2003; Stice et al, 2000; Phares et al, 2004)
 (Morris, 2005)
 (Phares et al, 2004)
 (Birbeck, 2003; Morris, 2005)
 (Birbeck, 2003)
 (Stice et al, 2000)
 (Arija et al, 2006; Ragno, 1994)
 (Kotler et al, 2001)
 (Davison & McCabe, 2006)