What is body image? A two-dimensional model of body image incorporates both perceptual and emotional components. It focuses on both how we feel about the size and shape of our bodies and how accurately we perceive our body size as well. A more recent cognitive approach suggests that body image is a complex set of cognitive schema. A schema is a grouped body of knowledge. Groups of schema are readily available for important tasks such as guiding behavior, circumstantial scripts (or dialogue), and evoking the appropriate emotional, somatic, visual, and auditory responses in certain situations. The cognitive schema for body image is an organized domain of knowledge about oneself and others. Different situations evoke different schema. For example, watching a runway show or looking at a women’s magazine filled with page after page of waifs may evoke the "I’m fat" schema, while being complimented for how good your body looks in a certain dress may evoke the "I’m sexy" schema. We begin constructing schema from a young age; thus, by the time we are adults we have been through many experiences and established very elaborate schema. Such elaborate constructs are resistant to change. These schema influence our perception of the world and ourselves, our feelings, and our behaviors.
Every culture around the globe stresses specific ideals for body image. In the United States and many other countries, the media plays a big role in how we view ourselves- it shows us what is "good" and what is "bad." In many ways our society infiltrates our concept of ideal body image by setting unrealistic expectations for both genders. At an early age we are instructed to pay special attention to our appearance. A...
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