Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Kim A. Logio
Body image refers to a person's self-perception of his or her body type and body size. This image is sometimes in keeping with the reality of a person's body size but often quite disparate from that actuality. When a disconnect exists between perceived and actual body size, harmful eating and dieting behaviors can ensue. Understanding body image provides insight into the underlying cause of severe eating disorders and unhealthy obsession with weight control. These problems are often very severe, especially for girls and women. Standards of attractiveness have changed in U.S. culture. In the 1940s and 1950s, predominantly full-bodied women and tall, dark-haired men were seen as the most attractive. In the 1960s, a shift to much thinner body types became the norm in the fashion and entertainment industries. Since this shift, popular culture images consistently show thin, or often extremely thin, women as the standard of beauty. For men, ...