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Why ‘Body Image’ needs a makeover!

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Discussion surrounding body image in Western societies, both within academic literature and indeed wider social discourses has vastly increased over the last 20 years. From its foundational roots investigating the disordered eating practices of young females, ‘body image’ is now widely understood as a multidimensional concept, incorporating attitudinal, perceptual, cognitive and affective elements (Roy & Payette, 2012). As a result, literature surrounding body image spans multiple disciplines, highlighting the complexity of gaining insight into this universal aspect of the embodied state – an image of the body you have. Even so, with evidence suggesting female body dissatisfaction has decreased over time (Karazsia, Murnen, & Tylka, 2017), it seems the multitude of research informing social understanding and interventions addressing alarming rates of body image dissatisfaction (BID), have been successful.

Foundation or concealer?  As a PhD student who is motivated by positive soc…

You’ll need balls to use it: Scrotox and men’s body image

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Botox releases neuropeptides which help to reduce inflammation and chronic pain in the surrounding area. Doctors inject Botox into patients’ scrotums (Scrotox) when they fail to respond to surgery on the spermatic cord and chronic scrotal pain persists (Khambati, Gordon & Jarvi, 2014). Several tabloid newspapers reported the rise of the non-medical use of Scrotox at the end of 2016. Some men are reported to be paying up to £3000 for the injection to reduce scrotum wrinkles, to make the scrotum appear larger, reduce sweating, and increase the size of the scrotum to aid sexual pleasure (London, 2016).


Arguably, this is just another aspect of men’s increasing concern with their body image. Today’s men are less limited than previous generations and do things that their fathers would have baulked at, including spending lots of time and money on ‘grooming’ products and services. For example, shaving-related products (razors, gels, creams, oils, balms), to scalp-hair products (styling gel…

Ask a Psychologist

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As I boarded a train last weekend I picked up a couple of discarded celebrity magazines left by previous passengers. As I don’t tend to buy these magazines, I was interested to see what the content could tell me.
The first magazine I picked up was Closer. Closer describes itself as “Combining the news, gossip and glamour of the celebrity world with extraordinary and compelling real-life content, Closer connects with its reader by getting to the very heart of every story.”The cover was a potpourri of images and headlines promising the reader insights into a brave 26 year old. “I look 50 but my saggy skin is beautiful”; a daughter describing her mother as “selfish and insane to have a child at 54”, Abi who loves her curves and Kristina who states “my shape’s changed forever”.
Inside the magazine, images of Daniella Westbrook, under the heading “Celeb nip/tuck”, show images of pre-and post-7 hour face lift operation which she claims was necessary because “trolls forced me to have surgery”…

Light except Lupita: The representation of Black women in magazines

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I’m a body image researcher and unlike Edith Piaf I have a lot of regrets about it. In my last post, I outlined my regret for my field’s minimization of injustices that are simply more urgent than having body image concerns. I also regret my field when it treats now near universal body dissatisfaction as something caused by individual level factors i.e., because a person compares themselves too much to others, has the wrong kind of thinking patterns or their hormones are imbalanced. And I regret my field when it pronounces Black women immune to developing body image issues because of our racist ideas about Black culture and booty sizes (as noted by Bordo, 2003). 
Previous research in the body image field has even eschewed the influence of media on body image.Specifically Christopher Ferguson concludes in the biggest meta-analysis of experimental research to date on the media’s impact on body dissatisfaction: “media effects are generally minimal and limited to those with pre-existing b…

How the duty to be beautiful is making young girls feel like failures

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A booming beauty industry is changing the way we see our bodies. (Shutterstock)Heather Widdows, University of Birmingham
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

From the daily application of high-tech lotions and potions to non-surgical procedures such as botox, fillers and peels, the beauty industry is booming like never before.
With more products and treatments available there is also a growing pressure around how people feel they “should” or “shouldn’t” look. So whether it’s fake eyelashes, tattooed eyebrows, manicured nails, body waxing or lip fillers, the chances are we all know someone who has these – and often we view these types of treatments as “normal”.
The sociologist Dana Berkowitz, has pointed out the increasing normalisation of botox. In her book Botox Nation she says: "The fact that Botox injections are temporary, repetitive, addictive, and marketed as preventative has made it such that these injections are …

Labiaplasty – Female genital mutilation Western style?

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A young teenager, Amanda D (not her real name), aged 13, comes with her mother to see her family doctor (GP), Dr Frances C. She looks embarrassed and avoids eye contact with the doctor. Her mother speaks on her behalf: “We think there is something wrong with her vulva – would you mind checking?” Frances endeavours to set Amanda at ease, and asks if her if she is happy to be examined. Amanda agrees. On the examination couch, Frances sees that Amanda has mildly protuberant, but healthy, normal inner labia (labia minora). She is perplexed: “Amanda’s vulva is completely normal – why is she here?” she asks. “Well”, says the mother defensively, “she doesn’t look like me.” Meanwhile, Amanda, looking relieved, is hastily getting dressed. Frances is appalled – imagine the damage one can do by suggesting to an adolescent that she has an ‘abnormality’ at the very time when bodily concerns and self-consciousness are at their height! Frances tells both of them in no uncertain terms that there is no…

Can you be a feminist and wear make-up?

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There is scholarly and popular debate over whether one can be simultaneously consider oneself a feminist and engage in commercial beautifying rituals such as wearing make-up, high heels, or be interested in fashion.
Although we may technically be in an era of fourth-wave feminism, the dispute between ‘third-wave’ feminists and ‘second-wave’ feminists on female consumerism remains largely unresolved. Second-wave’ feminism is often characterised by the critique of the portrayal of women in the media and advertising thanks to the iconic work of leading feminists of the day to include Betty Friedan’s “The Feminist Mystic”, Naomi Wolf’s “The Beauty Myth”, and Jean Kilbourne’s film “Killing Us Softly”. Crudely, the zeitgeist among second wave feminists was that that beauty, fashion, media and advertising were oppressive to the advancement of women and thus should be boycotted, protested and campaigned against.
In contrast, ‘third-wave’ or ‘post’ feminists view the pursuit of beauty as a so…