Tag: bodyimage

Shifts in Body Image

Shifts in Body Image

How crazy is it that the idea of body image has shifted tremendously throughout the years? But, what even is this idea of body image? Body image is a person’s perceptions, thoughts, and feelings about his or her body.  It includes how these feelings are affected by exogenous and endogenous factors, and how these feelings subsequently affect behavior.

At first, body image issues revolved around women with eating disorders and women who were concerned with their weight. It is known that research on eating disorders led to research on body image. This, of course, suffered many consequence such as

  • Body image limited to women
  • People with eating disorders
  • Only pertains to body weight and shape

Body image is such a vast topic and has problems and effects such as:

  • Effects of specific physical characteristics
  • Physical appearance in diverse contexts (cross cultural)
  • Physical appearance/body image in medical and allied fields (medical conditions, cosmetic/reconstructive surgery)
  • Factors that affect positive and negative body image across the lifespan (aging)
  • Social media effects, neurological effects (unrealistic standards)

It’s crazy to see how quickly ideas about the ‘ideal’ body image have changed across time periods. A lot of times it went hand and hand with the fashion sense of the time. In Egypt, women were seen as equal and were typically slim. From the middle ages through the renaissance period, a number of images suggest that fleshiness and a fuller female figure was the ideal. What I typically think of is a portrait of Aphrodite. Then, it began to shift quickly. Here is a run down of some time periods that really captured the ideals:

  1. 1800s: butt enhancers worn under dress and corsets, narrow waist
    1. late 1800s – full bustle in the back
  2. 1920s: loose dresses, short hair, less emphasis on curves
  3. 1950s: fitted dresses and skirts come back to show off hips
  4. 1960s: mini skirts and bikinis- thin ideal returns –> eating disorders increase
  5. 1980s: thin and FIT
  6. 1990s: boyish – super thin returns

Body image issues lends itself a lot to many eating disorders, self consciousness, body shame, and other critical components. Loyola is offering a Body Image Lab and discusses a lot of the issues in this particular topic. It is definitely a fascinating class, and I 100% recommend you all to take it if you would like to learn more about the historical context of this transition as well as create your own research in this field!