Body Image and the 21st Century

As a girl growing up in America I have always dealt with the concept of body image. My family is in the military and I have met people from all around the United States, and we as people with many different backgrounds. The majority of people I have met are American but values vary among people from different backgrounds. I always have had that group of friends always concerned with their body, and never satisfied with what they looked like. I also have always had that group of friends who were completely confident and happy with themselves. These two groups are very diverse and their confidence came in different forms, just like their body shape. I found myself noticing how some people would be so worried about their size and they were not overweight. On the other side of the spectrum there were girls who liked having curves. Even today I find myself wearing two hats with my friends because in one group, my size is not the norm to everyone. In my other group of friends I have an ideal body type.

This is seen throughout different societies, the ideal body image varies. Through research it has been found that people with African-American backgrounds are much happier with their bodies than people of Latino of European American origin. Traditionally in cultures such as Mauritania African, women work hard to gain weight and to be obese. However the ideal of being skinny is spreading beyond western cultures. The idea of thin being in is controversial in many societies. In places like Cameroon and Jamaica the idea of being bigger is still seen as a symbol of fertility and desirability. An argument is that ethnicity does not change, but culture does. For women in America, a larger woman was favored, but the concept of beauty has become centered on smaller women. Men are often excluded from the analysis of how people feel about body image. However the problem among men is rising, they also have negative body image. Usually the geographical location of men has a large impact on their body image.

The globalization of the world undoubtedly has had an affect across cultures in influencing what people think of themselves and what is popular. The media shows most people who are confident and popular as being skinny; whether it is through television or models.

More so even clothing stores have changed their clothing. This is nothing new; many places sizes are unique to that store. I always find it interesting is how much it varies in terms of sizes. In Forever 21, clothing for women sizes 00 to 10 in their general clothing sections, larger sizes are found in the plus size section. Old Navy has clothes sizes for women sizes 00 to 12 and they also have a plus size section. The difference between these to stores is that the sizes in Forever 21 run very small and in Old Navy the sizes run larger. This does not seem like a big difference, but the sizes are dissimilar and a size 4 at Old Navy would be a size 6 or 8 at Forever 21.

The changing concept of body image that is spreading is a image that portrays skinny as beautiful and better. It is so controversial because it is taking the place of traditional ideas. This is a growing issue among various societies and it is definitely interesting to see which cultures and societies are not affected.


About ahowa015

Class of 2013 International Studies DZLAM
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4 Responses to Body Image and the 21st Century

  1. jhump017 says:

    Ah i never thought of body image in the aspects of other cultures.It is nice to see that not all girls suffer with body image. a girl is her own worst critic. I enjoyed reading this article!

  2. What do you think the different sizings at competing clothing stores says about body image in our culture?

    • ahowa015 says:

      I believe that it says that says a great amount about that society expects women to look like and what size they should be. The difference between stores can also bee seen as how it is a struggle in how people should look and what size people should be. I am always surprised when I go into stores like Forever 21 and Old Navy and see such a large gap in what should be the same size.

  3. Bryce says:

    This is really interesting. I never knew about difference cultures having different body image preferences. As for the different sizes at a clothing store I would also think that while extremely slim clothing might be preferred by designers from a material stand point but I can hardly see that as being a major motivating factor. Regardless this is an interesting post! Good Job!

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