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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Body Image and Gender.

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Author Topic: Body Image and Gender.
Lisa D
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We've been getting so many posts about body image lately, I thought this would be a good topic to discuss from a gender perspective...

How do you feel that society's obsession with youth and body image affects men and women differently? What different demands are put on men and women by their own gender, as well as the oppsite gender? How does the media fuel these perceptions? Feel free to rant, discuss, and analyze here!


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Celtic Daisy
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I think that it looks like men and women have very different views on body image, but i don't think they are that different. It's true that the media does shower us with tons and tons of pictures of stick figure women, but it also showers us with tons and tons of men.

Unfortunatly it does seem like girls are the ones more affected. (Myself excluded for the most part luckily.) Girls tend to get more depressed, more disorders, etc, etc, etc. They also voice things more, for the most part, and that's how more attention gets drawn towards women.

I dont think women necessarilly have it harder with body image, it's just more publically known.

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'You've got the eyes of ten women. Not in a jar! I wasn't accusing you. I just mean your eyes are really nice'-coupling

Erin Jane
~Scarleteen Advocate~


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Kite
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I think there is a certain pressure on men to be muscular and athletic. However, the "social norm" is for men to attract women with wealth and power more than with looks. This might be one reason guys tend to have less body image problems than girls (though they do have their fair share).
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killer_raincoat
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i just said five minutes ago that i'd much rather be a girl than a guy, but i'd still like to clarify a few things, related to what Kite said. (that is, agreeing)

Men also, in my opinion usually have a more narrow view of what's beautiful in a woman. Slender, relatively large boobs, well groomed, petite features.
Women, on the other hand, have more varied preferences. Some like huge muscles, others prefer scrawns, or big guys. I very rarely find myself attracted to the jocks.

I'll admit i'm biased because of my female status, but i've heard guys in my class talk, and its always about who's ugly, who's pudgy, who they'd like to get in the sack, and who's most likely to be a lesbian.

i think women are less picky when it comes to the opposite sex.


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Kite
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Hmmm, killer, I'm not sure you're not generalizing. I've heard plenty of guys say that the "thin flat made-up" stereotype is created by women, for women. Most of my straight guy friends don't have really precise characteristics they look for in women. They want an attractive woman, but that could mean many different things for them.

When I was in high school, though, that wasn't true. I guess my friends were less mature and wanted to appear cool and hip, and that included dissing the unpopular (read: not accepted by the other girls because of some silly appearance thing) girls and commenting on everybody's body fat.

I'm not sure whether that makes my guy friends less picky, or picky about beauty in general but not about specific characteristics. Probably the latter. Hmmm, I'm not sure I'm making sense


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Doplegager
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As a guy, I would like to reaffirm that males are subject to social pressures about body image as well. As Daisy said, iI think that t's not so much because guys ecperience it less, but that there is more public concern for women. I have a friend that goes to a gym gawd knows how often. As a result, he is quite muscular. I asked him about it one day, and he said that the reason he went to the gym was that, unlike most guys one sees on tv and such, muscles did not come naturally to him. At this point I looked at my own body and felt rather insignificant.

I don't really know that much about the subject, but I would presume that one reason the stresses on guys aren't as publically 'known' is general health. I mean, it always seemed to me like lifting weights was a healthier practice than say, anorexia. Still, the motivation is the same, and any obsession can be dangerous...

As for women being more depressed, I don't think I would completely agree. Sounds something like the stereotype of women being more emotional than men. I am pretty sure that it could be argued that guys expereince the same emotions as women. Truth be told, this presumption can fit into the stereotypes. I would imagine that insecurities about body image could foster both the stereotypical aggression in males and the stereotypical depression in females...

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"He would have been perfect if it weren't for all of his flaws."


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Laura
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A lot of people I know, mostly guys, have body image issues regarding height. You don't hear them constantly obsessing over it, since it's obvious that height is kind of hard to change, but it does really bother some people.

For a good reason, too. (Straight) women's ideas of the ideal attractive man can run the gamut as far as muscles, weight, facial features, and the like are concerned, but it's rare, I think, to find a woman who includes "short" in her list of ideal qualities.


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Celtic Daisy
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I think that was a very big generalization killer_raincoat. I don't agree with that at all. I know a great many guys who have their own prefrances, but it has to do a lot more with the mind then the body. I don't think every guy is after "skinny girl, big breasts, etc, etc". Guys have just as many different prefrances as girls.

I could say i like certain physical features on guys, but that doesn't mean i like them, or they're better then someone who doesn't have exactly what i think it's perfectly attractive. Mind contributes to how anyone views people more than physical appearance in my opinion.

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'You've got the eyes of ten women. Not in a jar! I wasn't accusing you. I just mean your eyes are really nice'-coupling

Erin Jane
~Scarleteen Advocate~


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Doplegager
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As far as guys being attracted to a specific type of female, I have to agree with Daisy. I mean, I'm sure there is no need to point out that not all guys even attracted to females on these boards, but even those that are vary in their preferences. I for one must admit that I find almost everyone atractive in some way (of course, it often seems like no one believes me when I say this, and it doesn't go over very well during Truth or Dare games, but it's true ).

Of course, I think that in a way, killer_raincoat is correct. For example, say society dictates that a female must be a toothpick to be beautiful. Now say that a guy is told this message every day as he grows up. If he pays attention to society's standards, then it makes sense he will use them to judge beauty. But, y'know, that works both ways. And who listens to society's standards anyway?

Say, I have a question that I think fits this thread just fine. What's the difference between the what society dictates is beautiful and what we think society dictates is beautiful? Is there a functional difference?

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"He would have been perfect if it weren't for all of his flaws."


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Celtic Daisy
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I'm not quite sure i understand you're question, but i'll do my best. I spose we make what we want to out of society's standards in my own mind. In some ways, society has made some very attractive points, but most don't really apply to me. Okay, i'm gonna try and make this as clear as i can, so bear with me.

Society and/or media seems to have made what they think is perfect people. This is my view of what society has done. Since it is only my view and it is how i see it, i can't really say what society has actually done. Confuzzled yet? Me too.

Okay, since i only have my view, i can't really say if their is a functional difference. I'd need to see someone else's, or get someone to tell me exactly what society has done, or is trying to do. Get it? Oh geez, i think my brain is fried...

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'You've got the eyes of ten women. Not in a jar! I wasn't accusing you. I just mean your eyes are really nice'-coupling

Erin Jane
~Scarleteen Advocate~


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killer_raincoat
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well i seem to be getting quite alot of flack for my post, but i'm still sticking by it.
Things may be different as you grow older, but at my age (highschool) that's the way things work. Girls may swoon over big muscled guys, but when it comes down to it, i think guys care more about the outside then what the girl's like on the inside.

I'm not saying this is always the way, but i think with teens its pretty accurate.

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"Everybody thinks i'm such a horrible person, but i have the heart of a little boy. In a jar. On my desk." -Stephen King


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Heather
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Juat to add some food for thought: why do you think it is that so often when asked about one's OWN body image, what gets discussed is not only what OTHERS might think of it, but is the assumption made that body image -- or simply the body itself -- is primarily about sexual appeal to others?

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Heather Corinna
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My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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Celtic Daisy
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I don't think that's entirely true for me. If i'm asked how my body image is, i'll tell the truth. It's quite good, i percieve myself as being quite attractive, and if someone doesn't like me or doesn't think i'm attractive, so what? I can't really recall hearing anything mean about my body, so what reason do i have to have a bad body image?

I try to keep my body the way i feel it's attractive, not the way someone else has told me is attrative. If i like some clothes or make-up and they make me feel sexy, i'll wear them. It makes me feel outgoing, and even sexier, which builds my confidence.

I think that sometimes we end up talking about how other people percieve us, because it can add to our own body image. If you think someone doesn't like something about you, you'll start worrying about it, and then it becomes something much bigger then it is.

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'You've got the eyes of ten women. Not in a jar! I wasn't accusing you. I just mean your eyes are really nice'-coupling

Erin Jane
~Scarleteen Advocate~


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Heather
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But that's what I mean, Erin. Your response was mainly about the appearance of your body and it's attractiveness. Not about how you feel in it, your health, its literal strength or lack thereof, its agility, its FUNCTIONS.

See what I mean?

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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killer_raincoat
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the fast answer to that is other people don't care how you feel. they care how you look. (in my experience) so of course your going to think more about what others see.

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"Everybody thinks i'm such a horrible person, but i have the heart of a little boy. In a jar. On my desk." -Stephen King


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Laura
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
But that's what I mean, Erin. Your response was mainly about the appearance of your body and it's attractiveness. Not about how you feel in it, your health, its literal strength or lack thereof, its agility, its FUNCTIONS.

See what I mean?


I always thought that, since an "image" is something you see, your "body image" is how you think your body *looks*. Which, I suppose, is fairly easily morphed into how you think *other* people think your body looks.

If "body image" is supposed to mean all those other things too, then I've been confused this whole time.


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bettie
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image - a mental picture or concept (thank you Webster's ).

So the question of body image is one's conceptualization of one's body.

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-Scarleteen Sexpert

"Glad to have a friend like you,
And glad to just be me"
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Celtic Daisy
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Oh...i understand now. Well, yes, i think the term "body image" leads us to think of the outside most certainly. *slap in the face to me* heh. But if i may, i'm going to answer the question about how i feel in my body. I feel overall healthy in my body. I feel attractive. I love my mind, i get the most amazing ideas. I can make up outragous fantasies for me. My body inside and out works good for me. I've never had serious infections, and despite diabetes, i don't really have any complaints. I am at home in my body.

Did i get it right this time, hehe?

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'You've got the eyes of ten women. Not in a jar! I wasn't accusing you. I just mean your eyes are really nice'-coupling

Erin Jane
~Scarleteen Advocate~


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Heather
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Wasn't about right or wrong, luv. I was just asking why anyone thought we might be so quick when asked about body image to leap to our percpetion of how others might find us sexually attractive, that's all.

Just a think.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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Viva_La_Vie_Boheme
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Okay, I'm, like, around 80 or 90 pounds overweight and let me tell you, I get so much crap about my appearance that I seriously thought about suicide once. I mean, sure, how you think about yourself is a big factor, but how other people see you is too. The general idea for guys is you have to be built, and that I'm not. And the media doesn't help at all with trying to get to 'a good view on all people'. Every other person you see in the media is well built, and when there's someone overweight it's either someone for a diet program or someone there for a nice little ride on the pity train. Though I know that I may be slightly hypocritical (don't ask me how, I apologize for everything) that was my rant.

[This message has been edited by Viva_La_Vie_Boheme (edited 04-08-2002).]


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Sun Wu
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Hanging around on a bodybuilding forum has taught me a fair amount about men's body image. Some of these BBer's are so obsessed with their diets and maintaining that they phone toothpaste companies to find out the NUTRIONAL VALUE OF TOOTHPASTE!! It doesn't matter that they're not proffessional. I'm not, and I certainly stress over my diet a reasonable amount myself.

Men have a huge amount of pressure on them to be muscular. How many men do you see with their shirts off that aren't musclar? Not very many. TAke the main character, Max, from Roswell. The actor is actually 28, but playing an 18 yr old. Seriously. The guy is pretty gosh-dang ripped, and what kind of message do I get? "Not good enough." It's not seen as a big deal because not as many bad things happen from eating 3-7k calories a day and working out 4-7 times a week.

To be perfectly honest, I have trouble respecting anyone who can't get up off their asses and do some kind of physical excercise. Is this a result of getting into BBing? I think so. Why did I originally get into BBing? To have an amazing body. I'm in it more for the fun of it now... But so many guys at my school have ONE goal: Get ripped for summer to have a hot body to show off to the babes on the beach. Tell me, please, how guys are not affected as much as women by the media.

As for depression... It's my understanding that IF statistics show women get depressed more than men it's untrue for a few reasons.
1.) Men _in general_ are far more loathe to talk about their depression than women.

2.) Last I checked, psychologists are using female signs of depression to diagnose men with depression. So a fair amount of men get misdaignosed in that regard.

3.) Guys can say, "I'm fine." with a fake smile and people leave them alone alot more than with women. At least that's been my experience.


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killer_raincoat
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Well you definately make good point Sun Wu. I'm an avid watcher of roswell, and i think often the writers put Max out there with his shirt off for no reason at all. They can't even find something to relate his shirt-taking off to.

I suppose it's harder for us women to see the flip side, and men's perspective of self image. Maybe it's because, as you said, they're less like to voice their concerns.
I know none of my guy friends would ever tell me they felt fat.

I said before that girls have it worse, but maybe it's just that girls' bad body images are much more obvious.

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"Everybody thinks i'm such a horrible person, but i have the heart of a little boy. In a jar. On my desk." -Stephen King


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Celtic Daisy
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quote:
Originally posted by killer_raincoat:
I said before that girls have it worse, but maybe it's just that girls' bad body images are much more obvious.


Exactly the point i made in my first post killer.

quote:
Originally posted by Celtic Daisy:
They also voice things more, for the most part, and that's how more attention gets drawn towards women.

I dont think women necessarilly have it harder with body image, it's just more publically known.


I think this is exactly it. Bad body image isn't restricted to one gender. I think that female's bad image just have more attention.

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'You've got the eyes of ten women. Not in a jar! I wasn't accusing you. I just mean your eyes are really nice'-coupling

Erin Jane
~Scarleteen Advocate~

[This message has been edited by Celtic Daisy (edited 04-10-2002).]


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Clarinet Player
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I personally have no male friends that objectify women, perhaps because their moms are angry feminists or perhaps because they have been raised to believe women are equal. Now I pose to all of you a question:
Are men responsible for the objectification of us, or is it the popular media? In fact, is it even media, or is it the populist perception that society is flawed, but is still a scapegoat? I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.

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Sisterhood is Powerful


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sapphirecat
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quote:
Originally posted by Clarinet Player:
I personally have no male friends that objectify women, perhaps because their moms are angry feminists or perhaps because they have been raised to believe women are equal. Now I pose to all of you a question:
Are men responsible for the objectification of us, or is it the popular media? In fact, is it even media, or is it the populist perception that society is flawed, but is still a scapegoat? I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.


Okay, here's my thoughts on that exact topic.

1. I don't think anything caused my non-objectification of women any more than something caused my gender or orientation. In fact, knowing a "cause" for all this would worry me, because then there might be a "cure", denying me the opportunity to be who I am: erasing me from existence and replacing me with a social clone.

2. It's the "Real Man" that objectifies women. Real Men have to be strong and emotionless (with the exception of anger). Real Men cannot be gay. Real Men cannot be feminine because that would make them look gay. The most obvious ways to retain one's Real Man status are to bash gays and constantly discuss sex, preferably about one's own with the Perfect Woman--who is petite, beautiful, and submissive. (Note that this was more or less stolen from kitty_pryde's remarks on the subject elsewhere.) I believe that some Real Men out there are posing as such because a Real Man is always in control of everything, and they desperately want to be in control of themselves.

3. How powerful is Humanhood? (Regarding your signature)

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Sapphire Cat
Looks won't tell who's living inside.
Artist, poet, programmer, dreamer, and crossdressing bondage kitty


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Clarinet Player
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Humanhood is only as strong as our weakest attribute. I think that the "Real Man" is not really existant, only a figment of society's lively imagination.
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Milke
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Clarinet, I'm not sure I'm interpreting you right here, as your comment seemed a bit cryptic, but I see no reason that people as a whole are less powerful than women. Honestly, as someone who's been a self-declared feminist most of her life, I find that concept pretty offensive.

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Why scream and shout when you know it's true?
Why fall in love when there's better things to do?


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