Academic journal article The European Journal of Counselling Psychology

Body Image, Self-Esteem, Media, Disordered Eating and Actual Ideal Weight Discrepancy: Findings in Cyprus

Academic journal article The European Journal of Counselling Psychology

Body Image, Self-Esteem, Media, Disordered Eating and Actual Ideal Weight Discrepancy: Findings in Cyprus

Article excerpt

The actual ideal weight discrepancy refers to the difference between the weight that is perceived by the individual as acquired (actual weight) and the weight that the individual wishes to acquire (ideal weight; Vartanian, 2012). Even though a large discrepancy between actual and ideal body weight could imply body dissatisfaction, the constructs are not the same, as the actual ideal weight discrepancy is a way to quantitatively measure the extent of body dissatisfaction. Several studies reported large numbers of individuals who are dissatisfied with their actual body weight. Sarwer, Thompson, and Cash (2005) reported that two thirds of women and more than half of men were not satisfied with their body weight and Furnham, Badmin, and Sneade (2002) supported that body satisfaction is related to the discrepancy between actual and ideal body weight. Furthermore, when participants were shown body size figures, most male participants (79.9%) and most female participants (81.7%) chose a different body figure that represented their ideal weight as compared to the one they chose to represent their actual weight. Additionally, results revealed a statistically significant negative correlation between the actual ideal weight discrepancy and levels of self-esteem for women, whereas the same correlation was not found to be significant for men.

Moreover, Valutis, Goreczny, Abdullah, Magee, and Wister (2009) supported further that the actual ideal weight discrepancy influences body satisfaction. Specifically, their results revealed that the actual ideal weight discrepancy was a significant predictor of body weight-related anxiety. In addition, Furnham, Badmin, and Sneade (2002), who assessed the reasons why one chooses to exercise, found that the actual ideal weight discrepancy statistically explained over 40% of the variance of body satisfaction, along with weight control, body toning, attractiveness and actual body mass.

Furthermore, Tang et al. (2010) suggested that girls are more likely to misperceive their body as being overweight which probably leads them to experience depressive and anxious symptomatology. Additionally, Posavac and Posavac (2002) showed that stress levels were positively correlated with actual ideal weight discrepancy and that the variance explained by the discrepancy is different than the one explained by levels of self-esteem. Moreover, Marsh and Roche (1996) found that levels of self-esteem were predicted by the size of the discrepancy between actual and ideal body weight.

Concerning the relationship between the media and the ideal weight, in a meta-analysis of 25 empirical studies, Groesz, Levine, and Murnen (2002) found that the ideal weight projected by the media is correlated with decreased body satisfaction in girls and women. The effect of this correlation was stronger in young girls. In regards to the male population, Agliata and Tantleff-Dunn (2004) supported a significant relationship between exposure to the thin ideal by the media and depressive symptoms, as well as a dissatisfaction regarding their muscle mass. Ahern, Bennett, Kelly, and Hetherington (2011) further confirm the above relationship claiming that people who have the thin ideal internalized, have more disordered eating symptomatology than the ones who score low on the internalization of the thin ideal. The researchers incurred that this could be due to the fact that the people who internalize the thin or athletic ideal (Homan, 2010) hold the ideal body weight that is projected by the media as their own personal ideal (Dittmar & Howard, 2004).

In further support of the above relationship, Vartanian (2012) found that, when exposed to a thin ideal projected by the media, the participants who scored high on the actual ideal weight discrepancy experienced feelings of dejection, whereas the participants who scored high on actual-ought weight discrepancy (actual weight vs. an obligation or duty to possess a certain weight) experienced agitation. …

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