Body image refers to the subjective perception of one's personal appearance based both by self-observation as well as noting the reactions of others. Body image refers to an individual's ideas of his or her personal aesthetics and the sexual attractiveness of his or her body. While human society has always placed value on the beauty of the human body, it's frequent that an individual's own body image does not match the perception of what others see.
The term body image was first coined in 1935 by Austrian neurologist and psychoanalyst Paul Schilder in the book "The Image and Appearance of the Human Body." The term is commonly used today by many people, including those in the psychology field, people in medicine, philosophers and many other people. The term is also used frequently by members of the media.
An individual's body image is thought to be defined by a mix of many factors. Body image is defined by personal experiences, personality, and social and cultural influences that surround the individual. A person's perception of his or her appearance in comparison to the supposed "ideal" has a huge influence on shaping body image.
Many studies show that women are more concerned with body image than men are. People with a poor body image are more likely to try to drastically change their appearance through means such as plastic surgery or other cosmetic procedures. Some will argue that the sexualization of girls and women has contributed to additional female anxiety regarding body image.
Many argue that the media has a huge impact on body image. A common issue in the last few decades has been young girls and women comparing themselves to models on television and in magazines regarding their physical attractiveness. Many say this comparison is a huge factor in the rise of excessive dieting and eating disorders such as anorexia. Others argue, however, that women are more likely to suffer a poor body image due to their peer group rather than images that they see in the media.
There are many ways to improve body image, and most of them start with improving the way in which women see themselves. A good body image is a very important part of self-esteem.