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Looking good and judging gazes: The relationship between body ideals, body satisfaction and body practices among Norwegian men and women

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DOI: 10.4236/health.2012.45042    3,975 Downloads   7,282 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

This article compares how people with normal bodies and bodies that deviate from dominant media-depicted body ideals, live with and accept their bodies. Media images of ideal bodies encompass judging gazes. These gazes affect and discipline people and may make it challenging for them to accept their bodies. The data material is part of the interdisciplinary Nordic project called “Beauty comes from within: looking good as a challenge in health promotion”. Based on 20 interviews with Norwegian men and women, of whom 10 have particular appearance-related problems, the article discusses the relationship between the media-depicted body ideals, descriptions by informants of what a good-looking body is, body satisfaction and body practices. The article shows resonance between how people describe good-looking bodies and satisfaction or not with own bodies. Women express more dissatisfaction with their bodies than men, but the article shows that many have strategies for trying to accept their bodies as they are. The comparative perspective highlight that the people having deviant bodies, more than those with normal bodies, balance the idea of “being myself” with the idea of “doing the best out of my (bodily) situation”. Most interestingly, they show that it is harder to accept handicaps that are changeable, like overweight, than harelips, deformed legs and skin injuries. As such, overweight becomes a double burden.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Rysst, M. and Klepp, I. (2012) Looking good and judging gazes: The relationship between body ideals, body satisfaction and body practices among Norwegian men and women. Health, 4, 259-267. doi: 10.4236/health.2012.45042.

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