Good afternoon LOVEanese! I know what you're probably thinking: it's been a while. Well, I apologize that I accidentally took such a long break. As you remember me saying in the past, I like to blog once a week. While I've been posting a lot on the LOVEanon Facebook page, much has happened in the past few weeks--good things! The first is that I wrote my results chapter for my thesis which took a long time. But I did it! And now I'm waiting for the edits from my advisor. The second important thing that happened to me is that my girlfriend moved here to Beirut! You can only imagine how exciting it is, but also how my priorities have been elsewhere :) It's actually quite incredible how one person can really make you think about the world in a completely different way, especially when you write about love and relationships. Experiencing it really allows you to connect, to empathize... you get it. I wish this loving feeling to everyone in the world, and it's something I think that is really lacking. If only the world could love more... Perhaps I'm too much of a romantic.
Anyway, I digress. And here we are, back to weekly blogging. So, how do I restart my blogging efforts? By talking about something that I've been wanting to discuss for a long time. And that happens to be the connection between body image, self-esteem, and romantic relationships. You might be thinking, "Chou, how are these concepts connected to each other?" But really, think about it... If you're living in Lebanon (or anywhere for that matter), what are you seeing every day? Advertisements. Hundreds of them, thousands of them. All telling you that you can be thinner, lighter, prettier, sexier... and this is especially true for women. All throughout both Lebanon and the world we're being saturated by and exposed to fake, altered images and videos, and we are self-internalizing them. This affects our self-perceptions. What I want to do with this post is show some examples of this and then connect it back to relationship research to show how they are connected (just check out this link for more information, or check out my thesis where I cover how media affects perceptions of self and love more extensively).
|Courtesy of Ink on the Side by Sareen Akarjalian|
1. This is a great example from the Dove company about the evolution of a model from before make-up/editing, to after: here.
6. This slideshow, this slideshow, and this slideshow portrays models/actresses with and without make-up/Photoshop/enhancement, as well as this slideshow (at the bottom of the page) which does the same, but with porn stars.
7. This video looks at the the world of advertising and media production, and explores the "central claim that gender ideals are the result of ritualized cultural performance, uncovering a remarkable pattern of masculine and feminine displays and poses."
8. Here's a trailer to Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising's Image of Women, also done by Jean Kilbourne.
This as well as other commentary about sexuality and body image have been covered elsewhere by Lebanese bloggers too such as Our Man, and in the NOW Lebanon Blog. This one is particularly good: Are Lebanese women afraid of being natural? There were also two other articles that were interesting, this one and this one.
|I think she needs a bit more foundation, what do you think?|
|Can't we just agree that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors?|
YA ALLAH!! There's just so much to consider, no wonder people are insecure! And guess what? The academic literature supports it too... for both women AND men!
First of all, many studies have reaffirmed Jean Kilbourne's arguments above regarding media consumption and body image dissatisfaction among women including Vartanian, Giant, and Passino (2001); Green and Pritchard (2003); Grabe, Ward, and Hyde (2008); and Mousa, Mashal, Al-Domi, and Jibril (2010) (which was actually a study among Jordanian adolescent females), and many have affirmed this for men as well such as Leit, Gray, and Pope (2002); Hatoum and Belle (2004); Baird and Grieve (2006); and Barlett, Vowels, and Saucier (2008) (among many others).
Second, body image has direct relationship to self-esteem (e.g., Olivardia, Pope, Borowiecki, and Cohane, 2004; Smolak and Stein, 2006; Farquhar and Wasylkiw, 2007). Moreover, one thesis study was conducted on Lebanese adolescents examining the relationship between body image and self-esteem, discovering a positive relationship between these two constructs (Khraybani, 2008). In addition, she found no gender differences were shown on body image, where as males had higher self-esteem than females related to athletic competence, physical appearance, and romantic attachment.
While this might all seem like common sense, what isn't so common sense necessarily is how self-esteem connects to our relationships. There's been much research to show how self-esteem connects to relationship satisfaction and sexual functioning. For instance:
Hoyt and Kogan (2001: 199) examined body image and relationship satisfaction in male and female university students, indicating, "Women, especially those under or above average weight, were more dissatisfied with their appearance than were men, whereas men were more dissatisfied with their relationships and sex lives than were women. In addition, those body parts with which each gender was most dissatisfied were consistent with the body parts emphasized through "ideal" images. These results are discussed in relation to gender role dynamics and societal pressures."
Davison and McCabe (2005: 463) conducted a study that examined the relationships between different aspects of body image and psychological, social, and sexual functioning, finding, "Body image was associated with self-esteem for all groups, but...a disturbance in body image was related to problematic social and sexual functioning among middle-aged men and to depression and anxiety symptoms in late adulthood among men and women. Middle-aged men who presented with the type of body image disturbance typical of women were more likely to have impaired interpersonal functioning. These results demonstrate that social aspects of body image appear to be important in understanding psychological functioning in later life."
Markey and Markey (2006: 271) investigated the associations between young women’s romantic relationships and their body image. Their results revealed, "Females were more dissatisfied with their bodies than they perceived their significant others to be and were more dissatisfied than their significant others actually were. Analyses further indicated that the longer women had been in a relationship with their significant other, the more likely they were to incorrectly believe that their significant other wanted them to look thinner."
What's even more interesting is the link between relationships and self-esteem, and how it is gendered. Here's an example: Ambwani and Strauss (2007) explored body esteem, romantic love, and gender through qualitative and quantitative analysis, finding that there was a link between body self-esteem and romantic relationships for both genders. Moreover, they found that the variables of "trust" and "jealousy" were connected to self-esteem for women--i.e., higher feelings of trust and lower feelings of jealousy were correlated with higher self-esteem. Lastly, women were more likely than men to admit that body image influenced their sexual relations and that relationships affected their self-confidence.
While some such as Samet and Kelly (1987) have found that there's a correlation between romantic love and higher self-esteem, there is also an inverse connection between romantic relationships and self-esteem. Feeney and Noller (1990) studied attachment style, social relationship/attachment history, and beliefs about relationships, finding that each of these factors were related. They found that "Securely Attached" individuals reported relatively positive perceptions of their early family relationships. "Avoidant" participants were most likely to report childhood separation from their mother and to express mistrust of others. "Anxious-Ambivalent" participants were less likely than the "Avoidant" participants to see their father as supportive, and they reported a lack of independence and a desire for deep commitment in relationships. Further analysis also indicated that attachment style was also strongly related to self-esteem and to the various forms of love. This also connects to body image because, as Cash, Thériault, and Annis (2004: 89) found, "For both sexes, greater body image dysfunction was linked to less secure general attachment, especially more preoccupied general adult attachment and more anxious romantic attachment."
I know that was all a lot of information... but hey, what do you expect from me? I might write long posts, but this is research. It's not right to bull shit it or give shallow insight to social problems. Just remember that the way you think about yourself also affects your relationship/your relationship partner, and vice-versa.
|This campaign seeks to address a huge problem in India and South Asia: the overvaluing of light (brown) skin, and the undervaluing of dark (brown/black) skin. But, #BrownIsBeautiful!|
P.S. This article discusses the "Contrast Effect," which describes evaluating ""normal" people as less desirable and unfairly plain when compared to "beautiful" people." It is incredibly relevant to this topic, and I really suggest you check it out. Also, I suggest you stay up-to-date with the Science of Relationships because they often post articles about body image and its connections to relationship well-being, satisfaction, and maintenance.
Ambwani, Suman, and Jaine Strauss. 2007. "Love Thyself Before Loving Others? A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Gender Differences in Body Image and Romantic Love." Sex Roles, 56: 13–21.
Baird, Amy L., and Frederick G. 2006. "Exposure to Male Models in Advertisements Leads to a Decrease in Men's Body Satisfaction." North American Journal of Psychology, 8(1), 115-122.
Barlett, Christopher P., Christopher L. Vowels, and Donald A. Saucier. 2008. "Meta-Analyses of the Effects of Media Images on Men’s Body-Image Concerns." Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 27(3): 279-310.
Cash, Thomas F., Jocelyne Thériault, and Natasha Milkewicz Annis. 2004. "Body Image in an Interpersonal Context: Adult Attachment, Fear of Intimacy and Social Anxiety." Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23(1): 829-103.
Davison, Tanya E., and Marita P. McCabe. 2005. "Relationships Between Men’s and Women’s Body Image and Their Psychological, Social, and Sexual Functioning." Sex Roles, 52(7/8): 463-475.
Hoyt, Wendy D., and Lori R. Kogan. 2001. "Satisfaction With Body Image and Peer Relationships for Males and Females in a College Environment." Sex Roles, 45(3/4): 199-215.
Grabe, Shelly, L. Monique Ward, and Janet Shibley Hyde. 2008. "The Role of the Media in Body Image Concerns Among Women: A Meta-Analysis of Experimental and Correlational Studies." Psychological Bulletin, 134(3): 460-476.
Farquhar, Jamie C., and Louise Wasylkiw. 2007. "Media Images of Men: Trends and Consequences of Body Conceptualization." Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 8(3): 145-160.
Feeney, Judith A., and Patricia Noller. 1990. "Attachment Style as a Predictor of Adult Romantic Relationships." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(2): 281-291.
Green, Sharin Palladino, and Mary E. Pritchard. 2003. "Predictors of Body Image Dissatisfaction in Adult men and Women." Social Behavior and Personality, 31(3): 215-222.
Hatoum, Ida Jodette, and Deborah Belle. 2004. "Mags and Abs: Media Consumption and Bodily Concerns in Men." Sex Roles, 51(7/8), 397-407.
Khraybani, Imane Farouk. 2008. The Relationship Between Body image and Self-Esteem Among Female and Male Adolescents in a School in Lebanon. Master’s thesis. American University of Beirut: Beirut, Lebanon.
Leit, Richard A., James J. Gray, and Harrison G. Pope, Jr. 2002. "The Media's Representation of the Ideal Male Body: A Cause for Muscle Dysmorphia?" International Journal of Eating Disorders, 31(3): 334-338.
Markey, Charlotte N., and Patrick M. Markey. 2006. "Romantic Relationships and Body Satisfaction Among Young Women." Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35(2): 271–279.
Mallat, Sarah E. 2011. More Than Just Another Pretty Face? Understanding Motivations for Plastic Surgery Among Lebanese Female Youth. Master’s thesis. American University of Beirut: Beirut, Lebanon.
Mernissi, Fatima. 2001. Scheherazade Goes West. New York, NY: Washington Square Press.
Mousa, Tamara Y., Rima H. Mashal, Hayder A. Al-Domi, and Musa A. Jibril. 2010. "Body Image Dissatisfaction Among Adolescent Schoolgirls in Jordan." Body Image, 7: 46-50.
Olivardia, Roberto, Harrison G. Pope Jr., John J. Borowiecki III, and Geoffrey H. Cohane. 2004. "Biceps and Body Image: The Relationship Between Muscularity and Self-Esteem, Depression, and Eating Disorder Symptoms." Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 5(2): 112-120.
Samet, Naomi, and Eugene W. Kelly. 1987. "The Relationship of Steady Dating to Self-Esteem and Sex Role Identity Among Adolescents." Adolescence, 22(85): 231-245.
Smolak, Linda, and Jonathan A. Stein. 2006. "The Relationship of Drive for Muscularity to Socio-cultural Factors, Self-esteem, Physical Attributes Gender Role, and Social Comparison in Middle School Boys." Body Image, 3: 121-129.
Vartanian, Lesa. Rae, Carrie L. Giant, and Rhonda M. Passino. 2001. "Ally McBeal vs. Arnold Schwarzenegger:" Comparing Mass Media, Interpersonal Feedback, and Gender as Predictors of Satisfaction with Body Thinness and Muscularity." Social Behavior and Personality, 29(7): 711-724.