Body Image: A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice

By Thomas F. Cash; Thomas Pruzinsky | Go to book overview

21
Body Image Issues among Girls
and Women

RUTH H. STRIEGEL-MOORE
DEBRA L. FRANKO

Over 15 years ago, Rodin and her colleagues coined the phrase "normative discontent" to describe the pervasive negative feelings that girls and women experience toward their bodies. Sadly, this term continues to convey the experience of the majority of females in this culture today. This chapter explores the body image challenges women face across the lifespan and offers commentary on current thinking about body image as a gendered construct. Body image is a multidimensional concept that encompasses perceptual, attitudinal, and affective components. Disturbances in these components are termed "body image concerns." These disturbances may entail a negatively distorted view of one's appearance, body image dissatisfaction, or overvaluation of one's appearance in defining sense of self. Body image concerns can adversely affect psychological well-being and quality of life.


BODY IMAGE CONCERNS ACROSS THE LIFESPAN

Females are much more likely than males to experience body image concerns, regardless of age. Indeed, body image concerns are so widely seen as a "woman's issue" that many studies include females only, on the (implicitly or explicitly stated) assumption that these issues are not relevant for males. Methodological limitations are evident in much body image research. With the exception of recent studies of large and representative samples of adolescent girls, most studies rely on relatively small samples of convenience or fo-

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