Body image is not only the way we see our bodies in the mirror, but it is also a mental image of ourselves, stating clearly how we feel about our bodies. The psychological feature of it is maybe even more important as it is structured around how comfortable we are in our own skin and, together with the actual physical appearance, shapes us as human beings to a great degree.
The key factors that shape the standards of how we perceive our bodies are fashion designers, mass media, and also culturally-shaped concepts of how one’s body needs to be like.
These concepts have influenced both women and men alike, but have also differed greatly across countries and continents. However, with the help of movies and celebrities that have always been taken as an example of perfection, specific ideals have been formed, and not many can live up to them.
We shall now try to draw some parallels between how is body image judged and viewed in different cultural settings.
Body image in Asian cultures
The majority of men and women in China and Japan consider thinness and lean, lanky bodies as a model of how the ideal body needs to be like. They take the matters quite seriously and are willing to go the distance to achieve that ideal. What goes in their favour is their Asian cuisine, filled with healthy nutrients and low fat. Also, the skin tone should be as pale as possible as that has always been considered as a sign of aristocracy in their cultures.
Body image in the American culture
As controversial and evasive as the question of the ideal body is in America, some standards have been directly set thanks to the mass media originating from America. Most Americans will take a fit and muscular body as the norm, concerning what a perfect body needs to be like. It is a proper paradox given the fact that the statistical data show around 35% of Americans is overweight, and 33% are obese. Even though there are distinctions in respect to how African-Americans and Caucasians see ‘perfect’ body, statistic data clearly show that the ideal of fit, healthy, and thin body is the goal for all.
Body image in European cultures
Most Europeans would agree with the notion of having a thin and fit body is the perfect shape, for both men and women. In comparison to other continents and cultures, they seem to be able to live up to those expectations thanks to the active lifestyle and a lot of exercises. Europeans would always prefer to ride a bicycle or walk, and that is bound to yield results.