Original Article

Sex Roles

, Volume 65, Issue 7, pp 447-460

Fiction, Fashion, and Function Finale: An Introduction and Conclusion to the Special Issue on Gendered Body Image, Part III

  • Tracy L. TylkaAffiliated withOhio State University Email author 
  • , Rachel M. CalogeroAffiliated withVirginia Wesleyan College

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Abstract

Culture specifies standards for women’s and men’s body appearance and display. In Western cultures, these standards are both concentrated and ubiquitous in the media, represented as gendered body ideals for citizens to aspire toward. Because gendered body ideals are revered, individuals try to construct and portray their body consistently with these ideals. Furthermore, because gendered body ideals are narrowly defined and restrictive, individuals constrict their behavior, relationships, and perceptions of themselves and others to fall within the parameters of these ideals. The third and final issue of this series showcases innovative studies within two streams. The first stream investigates the many ways individuals invest effort into constructing and/or portraying their body to fit the gendered body ideal. The second stream addresses the diverse ways internalization of these ideals constrict individuals’ relationships, freedoms, and perceptions of others’ bodies and lifestyles. We discuss the empirical articles alongside points raised in films by Jhally (2009) and Clark (2009) that emphasize how media portrayals of gendered body ideals foster body-related constructions and constrictions in viewers. We emphasize intersectionality when presenting the articles, recognizing that gender combines with multiple identities (e.g., sexual orientation, race, political affiliation, and age) as well as individual difference variables to mold the degree to which individuals construct and constrict themselves and others to fit gendered body ideals. We end with a discussion of how these articles can be used to generate social change by deconstructing and delegitimizing gendered body ideals.

Keywords

Body image Gendered body ideals Gendered body constructions Gendered body constrictions Intersectionality Sexual orientation Social change strategies Prevention Treatment