Body image refers to a person's feelings of the aesthetics and sexual attractiveness of his or her own body. The phrase body image was first coined by the Austrian neurologist and psychoanalyst Paul Schilder in his book The Image and Appearance of the Human Body (1935). Human society has at all times placed great value on beauty of the human body, but a person's perception of their own body may not correspond to society's standards.
The concept of body image is used in numerous disciplines, including psychology, medicine, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, philosophy and cultural and feminist studies. The term is also often used in the media. Across these disciplines and media there is no consensus definition.
A person's body image is thought to be, in part, a product of his or her personal experiences, personality, and various social and cultural forces. A person's sense of his or her own physical appearance, usually in relation to others or in relation to some cultural "ideal," can shape his or her body image. A person's perception of their appearance can be different from how others actually perceive him or her.
A 2007 report by the American Psychological Association found that a culture-wide sexualization of girls (and women) was contributing to increased female anxiety associated with body image. Similar findings associated with body image were found by an Australian government Senate Standing Committee report on the sexualization of children in the media. However, other scholars have expressed concern that these claims are not based on solid data.
Body image can have a wide range of psychological effects and physical effects. According to Dr. Aric Sigman, a British Biologist, some women who see underweight women will have an immediate change in brain chemistry which diminishes self-esteem and can increase self-loathing. Commentators note that people who have a low body image will try to alter their bodies in some way, such as by dieting or undergoing cosmetic surgery.
Famous quotes containing the words body and/or image:
“The body sins once, and has done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification. Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure, or the luxury of a regret.”
—Oscar Wilde (18541900)
“Politics will eventually be replaced by imagery. The politician will be only too happy to abdicate in favor of his image, because the image will be much more powerful than he could ever be.”
—Marshall McLuhan (19111980)