Looking at body image through different disciples

by B.Matthews on March 24, 2017 - 9:55am

Positive body Image gives the right to both male and female to appreciate their appearances and is content with their bodies. Whereas people who suffer from negative body image treat their appearances to not be adequate enough for society, mass media or themselves.  The three important idioms to look into body image are; public health, psychology and child/adolescent psychiatry. These three topics which will be later discussed are important to the subject of body image.  


The University of McGill defines public health as a program that allows individuals to evaluate the health of the population as a whole while participating in both public and private institutions. Gaining your Masters in Public Health (MScPH) allows for one to study in fields as broad as health and medicine. When choosing the public health program, there are specialization pathways one could choose, which include, epidemiology, nursing, nursing with nurse practitioner electives, gerontology and indigenous and northern health.


            Moreover, another important domain that has a positive effect on how we interpret body image is the study of psychology. According to Concordia University, psychology is a study that focuses on a person’s behavior and cognitive development (both animal and human) while considering numerous conditions.


Furthermore, this program specializes in three sub- categories under the field of psychiatry; child and adolescent, forensic and Geriatric Psychiatry. The study of child and adolescent psychiatry from the University of Toronto is a program that allows students to practice specializing, diagnosing and treating disorders based upon a child and adolescents behavior.


To conclude, these three disciplines, as well as many others, characterize different ways to promote positive body image to men and women around the globe. Research has been shown that even though women are greatly affected more to body image issues men are just as likely to show certain characteristics.


Useful Links:

To articles relation to body image:

-          https://ca.news.yahoo.com/student-fights-negative-body-image-with-very-public-project-200900795.html

Other universities with a program a public health:

-          University of British Columbia: https://www.grad.ubc.ca/prospective-students/graduate-degree-programs/master-of public-health

-          University of McGill: https://www.mcgill.ca/epi-biostat-occh/academic-programs/grad/mscph

-          Lake head University: https://www.lakeheadu.ca/academics/graduate/programs/masters/public-health/node/7256

-          University of Saskatchewan: https://www.usask.ca/sph/

Other universities with a Psychology program:

-          Concordia University: www.concordia.ca/academics/undergraduate/psychology.html

-          McGill University: https://www.mcgill.ca/psychology/undergraduate

-          University of Ottawa: https://socialsciences.uottawa.ca/psychology/programs

Certain universities with a program in child and adolescent psychiatry:

-          University of Toronto: www.psychiatry.utoronto.ca/education/subspecialties

-          University of Manitoba: http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/health_sciences/medicine/units/psychiatry/programs/child_adolescent.html

-          University of Toronto: http://www.psychiatry.utoronto.ca/education/subspecialties/




I believe you did an exceptional job at educating readers on the various disciplines that deal with body image, and how, with the understanding of each discipline, positive body talk is encouraged onto men and women. Your specific descriptions give insight on how each field works independently and together to form knowledge that gives awareness to positive body image views which can be very beneficial.

That being said, I believe that you should have mentioned exactly how perceptions of body image truly affect each gender and not just how the disciplines discuss these perceptions. From a gendered perspective, we can take a look at men’s body image issues.

You stated that although women’s negative body image views are more prominent, men also deal with issues on how they look. We can see how society’s expectations have forced them into this unattainable model through the concept known as the ‘man box’. To fit into this ‘box’, men are expected to follow this idea of hegemonic masculinity, a type of traditional masculinity which associates the notion of a real man to have power, domination, strength, virility, and stoicism. As well, a concept known as the ‘modern Adonis figure’ embodies the physical characteristics of which a hegemonic man must adhere to in order to stay within the confines of the ‘box’.

If, for some reason, a man does not or cannot conform to these idealistic directives, then society will question the essence of his manliness. Consequently, men can be body shamed or verbally shamed to support this appeal of hegemonic masculinity since they have now fallen out of its borders. This causes dire consequences to men’s mental, physical and emotional health which can affect them later on in life.

Therefore, I agree that it is important to understand how each discipline can better help develop our perspectives of positive body image, but it is not enough. We must take into consideration the underlying problems that cause these negative body image views so that we can implement ways to resolve them. This approach must start with society, by releasing the pressures and unfeasible expectations of men and women and instead try to implement healthy, realistic views that all people can achieve.

If you are interested in acquiring more knowledge on the man box and the concepts of hegemonic masculinity and the Adonis figure, consult this link:

Although I do agree with what you are saying, concerning male body and its impact on a man’s display of masculinity, I believe that there is more pressure placed on women to confirm to their ideal body image. Not only that, but the traditional beauty ideal that comes to mind is one that is unattainable and unrealistic. Whereas, the male mold is one based around physical health and a muscular stature. This considerable stress that is placed on women’s body image originates from object to subject binary. What is meant by this term is that in the patriarcal heterosexual world, men and women each have socially constructed roles. The man is set to be the subject and he is taught to want. Whereas the women is the object. She is taught to that her role is to be wanted and to be the focus of the male gaze. She feels the need embellish her physical appearance in order to achieve what the system determines is to be seen as beauty and steer away from what is not. So, by this binary, women feel a lot more pressure to adhere to the current beauty standards than men do since they are the object of male desire. It is the unfortunate truth about men that they will look to exterior attractiveness before all else. Women feel disvalued and unattractive if they cannot obtain this attention. This is where the pressure sets in and in order to conform to what men find appealing, women will alter the bodies through diets which could develop into eating disorders, surgery and makeovers. This all contributes to the unhealthy obsession for the embodiment of ideal beauty according to institutionalized hegemonic masculinity. Therefor, the whole concern with body image is, for the most part, a greater concern for women in the current patriarcal system than it is to men.

About the author

I'm Brianne, this is my final semester at Champlain College and I am currently studying social science: education option. On my past time, I enjoy learning musical instruments, and practicing the ones that I currently study.