Sociocultural influences on body image discontent and stigma (#17)
The importance of appearance in general, with a particular focus on the body, is on display almost everywhere – on bill-boards, in shop windows, in magazines, and in the conversations of individuals. It is, then, not surprising that body image problems and weight-related stigma are two interrelated phenomena of concern to many people in contemporary Western societies. This presentation will focus on an analysis of the sociocultural predictors of these, as well as of potential psychological mediating processes. In particular, empirical evidence (using a variety of methodologies) supporting the roles played by the media, family, and peers will be presented. Further, although all individuals live within the same broader sociocultural framework, there will be individual differences in people’s vulnerability, or alternatively resilience, to these influences. Thus the presentation will consider how these sociocultural forces operate in the case of overweight and obese individuals. It will be concluded that sociocultural models developed to explain the experience of normal-weight individuals are very relevant to obesity.