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Body Image

            Body image involves our perception, imagination, emotions, and physical sensations of and about our bodies. It is not static, but ever changing; sensitive to changes in mood, environment, and physical experience. It is not based on fact. It is psychological in nature, and much more influenced by self-esteem than by actual physical attractiveness as judged by others. It is not inborn, but learned. This learning occurs in the family and among peers, but these only reinforce what is learned and expected culturally. In this culture, we women are starving ourselves, starving our children and loved ones, gorging ourselves, gorging our children and loved ones, alternating between starving and gorging, purging, obsessing, and all the while hating, pounding and wanting to remove that which makes us female: our bodies, our curves, our pear-shaped selves. Body image dissatisfaction is so epidemic in our society that it's almost considered normal. "Recent studies show preschoolers are already exposed to hearing that certain types of foods, especially sugar, might make them "fat." Kids as early as third grade are concerned about their weight. But the most vulnerable are teens," (Lightstone p.1). The media plays a big part. Surrounded by thin models and TV stars, teenage girls are taught to achieve an impossible goal. As a result, many teenage girls intensely dislike their bodies and can tell you down to the minutest detail what is wrong with it. "Most teens watch an average of 22 hours of TV a week and are deluged with images of fat-free bodies in the pages of health, fashion and teen magazines," (Lightstone). The "standard" is impossible to achieve. A female should look like and have the same dimensions as Barbie, and a male should look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Buff Baywatch lifeguards, the well-toned abs of any cast member of Melrose Place or Friends, and music-video queens do not help. Take a look at the 10 most popular magazines on the newspaper racks.

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