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Body Image Essay, Research Paper

It is found that women are not the only one’s dissatisfied with their appearance. A growing number of men among society are increasingly concerned with body image. Studies have found that dissatisfaction with body image among men is on the rise. Many male students are facing eating disorders in order to keep up with societies perfect body image.

We see disorders, such as “dysmorphia” reaching a high point within the male population. Dysmorphia focuses on a “obsessional preoccupation” (p.66) of ones body image. A patient suffering from this type of disorder would see a part of the body as “ugly”. In males a certain type called muscle dysmorphia, is seen, that has come of great concern. Muscle dysmorphia is induced by an obsessive-compulsive image of ones muscle tone. With this type of disorder, one might go to great lengths to fit the image they are looking for. Going to these lengths often causes harms to the body creating damage physically and mentally (e.g. one will take steroids). When looking for answers to why this occurs research points at “magazines, motion pictures, toys and other media.

The article gave insight to how action toys have played a part in creating negative body image. In the study, toys such as G.I. Joe figures, Star War and Star Trek characters, Superman, Spiderman, and Batman were studied, examining the evolution of the action figures throughout the years (from around the 60’s to the 90’s). Measurements were taken of the figures waist, chest, and biceps, showing the change in muscle tone over time.

The concern is that action toys present ideal body image setting an example that you must look like a superhuman body builder. The images portrayed exceed the level of muscle tone that can safely be achieved. These extreme measures are dangerous causing many to not eat right and take drugs. Males find that looking this way is the only way to fit within society. Although getting to this level is unsafe, the consequences are often overlooked.

The GI Joe toy, when first introduced measured eleven and a half inches and although changed in 1973 to 1976, kept a reasonably life like body. A new figure was put out discontinuing the eleven and a half-inch figure, by a series of three and three fourths inched figure in 1982. Ten years later a four and a half-inch action figure came out followed by a five inch during 1995. As the year passed the difference in the actions toys varied, since now they were more muscular. The toys were supposed to demonstrate more powerful behavior now that they were larger. This gives young boys the notion that in order to feel any sense of control you must be larger then others.

The GI Joe figure has not only grown bigger but also more muscularly defined. GI Joe, “for example, the earliest figure has no visible abdominal muscle: his 1975 counterpart shows some abdominal definition; and the 1994 figure displays the sharply rippled abdominals of an advanced bodybuilder”(p.67). The bodybuilder image has replaced the life like body causing many to feel inferior if they do not fit this image. “The G.I. Joe Extreme would sport larger biceps than any bodybuilder in history. While early G.I.Joe figures may have resembled a little boy’s father, or older brother, present figures depict a physique, which is virtually unattainable by the human body.

The same discovery was made with Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo (Star Wars). These plastic figures are supposed to seem strong and powerful. The image being projected is that muscle makes you tougher; ordinary human bodies are not good enough, and apparently, Arnold Schwartzenegger is a little bit too puny as well. . “Luke and Hans have both acquired the physiques of bodybuilders over the last 20 years, with impressive gains in the shoulder and chest area”(p.69).

Although one can not be sure that young boys will be affected by playing with these toys, it can be observed that a change in society has occurred.


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