Doing the society view them (Guimond et al.,

Doing
something: Promoting positive Body image

Introduction

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Society
influences individual’s thoughts and behaviors in multiple different ways, from individual development to interactions through to individual’s views of their
looks or bodies as a symbol of their
self-worth. Body image denotes how individuals view their physical self, how
they feel about their appearance, how they talk and think about their bodies,
and how others or the society view them (Guimond et al., p.229). Today, the
media has increasingly reinforced certain societal beliefs regarding how people
should look, which the society continues to perpetuate and validate either
knowingly or unconsciously. The more the media portrays the ideal body images
of both some fictional and artificially-enhanced figures, the more people
continue to reflect their own looks based
on the idealized characters.  This paper
will focus on the socially constructed problem of body image and the
effective way of addressing it.

First,
the body image is a social problem that shapes social identity including how
people form relationships and how they associate and interact with different
social groups (Dittmar, Halliwell, and Ive
p. 86). Today, the advancement in technology has led to the emergence of online
social networking sites and increased programming of quality television shows
that show the false reality and related
digital fantasies (Dohnt and Tiggemann 929). Females,
especially teenage girls and young adults are the majority users of reality
television shows and photo and video-based social media sites such as
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snap, among others. Additionally, females
tend to view magazines, billboards, and social media in search of the ideal or
fashionable look in terms of hairstyle,
dresses, shoes, or make-up. (Dohnt and Tiggemann p. 932)
However, the cultural definition of beauty does often accurately depict the
body size and shape of the average person.

The
impact of this idealization of a perfect image is a feeling of shame and a huge
desire to change their physical appearance through unhealthy methods of losing
body weight and enhancement of some body parts through plastic surgery or
injections. The negative perception of one’s image results in dissatisfaction, which is associated with harmful body disorders such
as anorexia (Trampe, Stapel, and Siero 110). The major problem is that the majority of young
people do not realize that idea bodies seen on TV or social media are often altered through photo/video editing
or surgical processes. Recent cross-cultural studies and experiments have found
a strong relationship between social media and body surveillance, body image,
self-objectification, dieting, and strive for thinness (Trampe, Stapel, and
Siero 112). Social media sites have continued to create
tools that enable people to seek approval for their looks, which are mostly influenced by celebrities and other
public figures.

            Through a process of
self-objectification, girls and young women embrace
an external view of their image, where they tend to magnify a certain part of
their body that they dislike or like most and focus on that (Pennington p.1).
Eventually, the over obsession with that part leads to distraction to the
overall self-worth and promotes anxiety and shame, which eventually lead to
depression, eating disorders and sexual dysfunction(Pennington p.1). As a
social problem, negative body image is not
limited to women. Men also appear to
embrace the media perception of masculinity including long facial hair, heavily
built and toned bodies. The consequences of such content include the use of unhealthy steroids, dieting, desire for
leanness, and subjecting one’s body to extreme exercises (Guimond et al., p.
238).

According
to Conley (p.5), the media has played a major reinforcing the idea of social
construction where people are taught to behave or look in a certain manner.
Those who divert from the ideal social constructions are considered deviant, antisocial or even failures. Conley ( p. 129)
adds that women and girls are the most vulnerable targets of socially
constructed principles of beauty since they are emotionally attached to how
they appear. The values, concepts, and ideas of beauty are influenced by
symbolic interactions, which argue that social relationships are shaped by
behaviors, words, and thoughts that have symbolic meanings (Dittmar, Halliwell,
and Ive p. 290). The issue of body image
cannot also be understood through the
conflict theory. This theory argues that conflict between different interests
is the primary, shaping factor of changing
the society (Conley p. 28). Those at the top of the social class have the
greatest influence on social change including determining the perfect body
image. Therefore, the upper class or those with higher power such as
celebrities are often responsible for the construction and advancing the idea
of ideal body image.

Interventions
(Online Campaigns)

Since
the majority of teenage and young women
are technologically literate and spend
most of their time online, I will participate in online campaigns aimed to
promote positive body image. I will start by creating social media pages where
some volunteers and I will describe our appearance in a positive way
accompanied by images, videos, and quotes on self-worth, self-confidence,
self-love, and overall acceptance of one’s body appearance. The next step will
include starting conversations where the audience describes themselves and how
they view their body including what they like or dislike about their physical
appearance without any criticism or judgment from others. The administration will closely monitor the
conversations to detect and remove
any inappropriate comments.

How
the audience attains the level of acceptance is
determined by the person’s self-esteem, self-love,
and overall development. To balance all
the issues in promoting a positive image,
the campaigns with taking several steps
including de-emphasizing body weight, discrediting or fighting back some
idealized media messages, creating a supportive community, discourage comparing
or imitating others, and learn to accept what we cannot change in our bodies.
Fighting back the negative and social constructed fantasies will be counted by
online protests through twitter coordinated hashtags
and social media posts to denounce such messages. The will help the audience understand that what they see or read
regarding perfect looks are just mere social constructs (Trampe, Stapel, and
Siero p.115). This
will help to reduce dissatisfaction and unhealthy body practices.
De-emphasizing the ideal body weight (kilograms or pounds) will teach people to
love their body size while still living a healthy lifestyle characterized by
health food and exercise. Kilograms should not be used to determine who is
beautiful or good looking and who is not. The most important thing is to adhere
to whole foods and balanced diet and healthy
activity levels. The audience needs to understand the value of accepting one’s
body type whether tall, thick, thin or short and appreciate the uniqueness it brings. This
can be best achieved by stopping
comparing one’s body to others because it will only trigger or increase
dissatisfaction.

The
campaigns will also include sharing content regarding beauty and health either
from books, journals, magazines, and other credible online platforms. Together
with the team, we also organize informal art galleries focusing on arts that
promote different body types and appearance covering people from different
cultures, gender, and ages. The campaign will term body prejudice as a type of
discrimination that should be handled in the same way as other types of
discrimination (Guimond et al., p.233). Associating size and structure of the
body with intelligence, character, success,
and morality is a socially constructed idea. From the campaign, every person will be empowered to view his or
her body as the ideal and unique size and shape.

Conclusion

The
increased images are shown on television,
magazines, newspaper and social media
sites shape how people perceive themselves. The constant promotion of thinness and
toned body as the healthy and ideal bodies reinforces the socially created image
of perfect people, which does not meet standards of the average person.
Technology has made it possible for people to imitate and Photoshop their
photos to appear flawless to receive
acceptance and validation from others. However, the satisfaction created by
social media validation is short-term,
but the impacts associated with body dissatisfaction are long-term and includes
anxiety, shame, and depression. Using online platforms such as social media
pages to fight idealization of human and promote acceptance and self-love, is
an effective strategy since most young people spend many hours online.