Our understanding of body image is often subconsciously influenced by our surrounding environments and cultural values. Living in an era of social media, our perception of body image is more or less affected by the standard portrayed on the media. It leads us to focus more on the exterior of “what am I?” instead of the interior of “who am I?”. This research explores what body image really is and how it is shaped by society.
Our perception of body image is often influenced by media and social trends. Since the rise of mass media, the images of women have been objectified and sexualised for the purpose of commercialisation. Many young girls and teenagers look up to these “generalised” images of the female body and try to become like one of the models. They compare themselves with what they thought are the "norms" and develop a negative image about themselves. In reality, however, only 5% of the population naturally possess the body type of supermodels. This beauty standard is unrealistic and causes dissatisfaction in self-perceived body image.
Looking back on the past, what is considered to be a “beautiful figure” varies each decade due to a number of social influences. For example, during the 20s and 40s, the ideal women body shape shifted from a soft curvy figure to a more boyish and muscular look because of the pressure of war. In the 60s, the feminist movement further promoted the curveless and boyish look as to display the strength of women. However, when it comes to the 80s, the trend of slim body shape led to a serious concern of anorexia in young women and teenagers due to the “idealised” image portrayed on the media. The curvy body shape has made a return in the ‘00s and resembles former trends during the 10s and 30s. Recent years, the popularisation of social media merges the public and private spheres and offers new ways of portraying oneself. The continuous evolution of media will keep shaping our “perceptions of beauty”.