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Self-perception of Beauty and Body Image Essay Sample

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Self-perception of Beauty and Body Image Essay Sample


Since ancient time, the society has defined the notion of physical attractiveness as women’s most important assets. The feminine beauty has been characterized and depicted through aesthetics models. The ideal aesthetic model is the result of a socio-cultural construction. Social construction is an idea or concept that exists because people behave like it exists (Conley, 30). The female body, in fact, has always been a symbolic role associated with socio-cultural meaning, each corresponding to certain aesthetic ideals.

Today media being more prominent than ever, it has altered the social concept of beauty. With movies, magazines, newspapers, TV adverts and online press dominantly portraying the ideal woman, it has influenced how women are expected to look to meet the socially constructed standard of “beauty.” Media has been proved to be highly influential on how people view a particular aspect of society. As mass media develops, the way people see feminine beauty ideals changes, as does how females view themselves.

Women tend to struggle living up to the rigid standard of beauty. The incredible pressure to conform to a precise definition of \”beautiful\” may result in drastic psychological effects often correlated with depression, eating disorders, and low self-esteem, starting from a young age and continuing into adulthood.
In Nepal with the growing modeling industry, parlors, body shaping

The purpose of the study is to explore the relationship between socially constructed beauty and self-perception of beauty and body image among women.

1.1 Research areas


With the advertisements presenting flawless beauty and digitally manipulated images, modeling agencies depicting perfect figure body, negative body image has been perpetuating. Though some people are of the opinion that makes up has been an integral part of women living to present themselves beautifully, it enhances beauty as well as generate self-esteem, the constant pressure that women bear to look ideally beautiful cannot be ignored. The defined notion of beauty can sometimes create body dissatisfaction and consequently low self-esteem, psychological effect and depression in many women – hence the ongoing battle for control of women’s bodies.

Women are mostly enforced with the expectation of “looking good” in the society as well as the workplace. Good looking and attractive women are often preferred in the corporate world, so is the condition for selecting bride in case of arrange marriage.


Initial research questions:

This research will seek to determine the answers to the following questions:

What is the perception of Nepalese female to ideal beauty?
Does overall body image including a facial feature affect the level of self-esteem?
Why it affects the self-esteem?
Are women under pressure to look attractive at the everyday role of their life?
Does media in any way change the self-perception?


This is a proposal for a sociological study of beauty standards and its impact on the self-esteem of Nepalese urban women. Its primary objective is to find out to what extent Nepalese urban women incorporate beauty and body image portrayed by society and media.

In gender studies and feminist theory, socially constructed beauty standard serve as a form of control.

A central hypothesis of the project is that predefined notion of beauty will have an impact on the self-esteem of Nepalese urban women.


  • H1: There will be a negative correlation between society/media and body image. Participants will have a lower body image.
  • H2: There will be a negative correlation between society/media and self-esteem. Participants will have lower self-esteem.
  • H3: There will be a positive correlation between body image and self-esteem. Participants with lower body image will also have lower self-esteem.
  • H4: There will be a positive correlation between the use of beauty products and self –esteem.

The objective of the research will be:

  1. To determine how overall body image affect an individual’s identity to enhance self-esteem?
  2. To ascertain if the absence of beauty products and personal presentation reduces the amount of self-confidence present in the women.


The presence of low self-esteem and body image has been found high in women especially at their adolescence age. Female since their adolescence age undergo “construction of self” as they went through the process of discovering themselves and how they fit into society. With the physical and emotional transition, they are introduced to the social construction of beauty through Mother, family figure, peers and media. This may sometime result in body dissatisfaction and poor self-image leading to eating disorder to attain desired weight, lower self-esteem, psychological problems, etc. This study will try


The study will be carried out considering a different aspect of the society. Despite the careful planning there still can be some limitation which cannot be avoided. Research may be limited for questionnaire data collection and time constraints.

The sample population may represent women in the urban area; the outcome may not apply to women in a rural part of Nepal. The sample population may be sufficient to draw a conclusion, but it may not include a vast number of respondents. Purposefully, only female gender will be considered; this may cause exclusiveness of personal perspective from the male and transgender population. Hence, the findings and results will be limited to the female population only.

The differences and similarities of the participant’s background must be taken into consideration. Also, payment should be made for the factors that might affect their response.
The study will be made for a specific time; the output may vary with the time frame as perception may change over a period.


Body image is a person\’s perception of the aesthetics or sexual attractiveness of their own body, Schilder (1935). Human society since ancient time has placed a high value on the beauty of the body, but an individual’s perception may be affected by the society’s standard.

Maslow included self-esteem in his hierarchy of human needs. He defined self-worth as the need for admiration and need for self-respect in the form of self-love and self-confidence.

An own assumption of an impression of their body is also assumed to be a product of ideas cultivated by various social and cultural ideals. The issues surrounding body image can be examined through, body negativity, and body positivity. Negative body image consists of a disoriented view of one\’s shape; whereby they often feel self-conscious or feel ashamed, and assume others are more attractive.

As the social power and prominence of women have increased, the pressure they feel to adhere to unrealistic social standards of physical beauty has also grown stronger because of commercial influences on the mass media, Naomi Wolf, 1990. This pressure leads to unhealthy behavior and preoccupation with appearances in both sexes, and it compromises the ability of women to be effective in and accepted by society.

American Psychological Association,2007 reported culture-wide sexualization of girls and women was contributing to increased female anxiety associated with body image.

Mass media is one of the most potent tools for young girls and women to learn and also understand feminine beauty ideals. As mass media develops, the way people see feminine beauty ideals changes, as does how females view themselves.

\”The average teen girl gets about 180 minutes of media exposure daily and only about 10 minutes of parental interaction a day,\,” says Renee Hobbs, EdD, associate professor of communications at Temple University. In most advertisements, female models are typically homogeneous in appearance. \”Girls today are swamped by [ultra-thin] ideals not only in the form of dolls but also in comics, cartoons, TV, and advertising along with all the associated merchandising.\.” In addition to this, the feminine beauty ideal in the mass media is manipulated by technology. Images of women can be virtually manipulated creating a model that is not only rare but also nonexistent.

Wolf(1990) and Blood (2005) write that beauty standard has not only undermined women’s self-worth but also pressure them to conform to the beauty practices of feminity in an attempt to emulate the ideal images of womanhood presented by media and society.

According to a study by the Girl Scouts of America in 2010, out of over 1000 adolescent girls surveyed, 88% of the girls believe that the media puts a lot of pressure on them to be thin, and 65% think that the body image represented in the fashion industry in the press is too skinny, and 60% said they compare their body to what they see in magazines. Now that adolescents have easy access to seeing celebrities on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, the pressures have grown.

Findings from Thapa & Thapa, 2015 showed that 71% of female adolescence in Kathmandu out of 239 sample population have body image dissatisfaction (BDI) which is followed by eating disorder, BDI being negatively associated with body esteem. Female being more vulnerable to BDI are associated with media exposure and body esteem.


Looking-glass self

The concept of the looking-glass self-describes the development of one\’s self and one\’s identity through one\’s interpersonal interactions within the context of society, Cooley (1902).

The looking-glass self-comprises three principal components (Yeung et al. 2003).

  1. We imagine how we must appear to others.
  2. We believe and react to what we feel their judgment of that appearance must be.
  3. We develop our self through the decisions of others.

Media symbolically presents visual representation portraying feminity, beauty, sexuality, and self-worth. Drawings, painting, and different form of historical art have been representing women symbolically. Symbols have the communication power to influence the social values, morals, and beliefs. The custom, values, language, knowledge handed over from generation to generation forms the culture. Media these days have been filtering the definition of religion and symbols by partially not covering the story and presenting biased content. Hence, looking glass self-generates perception of others and how it is applied to the individual life.

Objectification Theory

Objectification theory provides a framework for understanding the experimental consequences where female are sexually objectified. This theory posits that girls and women are typically acculturated to internalize an observer’s perspective as a primary of their physical selves. This perspective of person can lead to habitual body monitoring, which, in turn, can increase women’s opportunities for shame and anxiety, reduce chances for peak motivational states and diminish awareness of internal bodily states.

Objectification results in self-objectification where women go through the psychological process of internalizing people’s objectification of their bodies, resulting in them continually criticizing their bodies. This can be viewed as a continuous cycle where media emphasize the self-objectification.

With the growing use social media presence, women are conscious of their existence and input to the social site by avoiding less flattering photos so that they seem to have effortless beauty, infinite happiness, and a life that is all put together. Studies show that women who do this tend to have higher self-esteem than those who don\’t because they see their site and see themselves as beautiful. This is not necessarily a good thing, however. They feel that their social media site is something that they can control and make themselves attractive. This is women viewing themselves as an object; an object that has right sides and wrong sides; an object for someone else\’s viewing pleasure


The qualitative method will be used to focus on retrieving participant thoughts and perception towards prevailing beauty standards. The most effective way to obtain qualitative data is through interview and research questionnaire. Also, the Quantitative method will be used for collecting statistical information, e.g., participants age group.

The project aims to include female respondents from different backgrounds. The in-depth interview will be conducted with a sample of the female population in Kathmandu, and the online sample will be done for another representative sample. Each participant will be provided with study questionnaire related to body image. Confidentiality and anonymity will be maintained.



  • Yee Yee Foo, S. (2010). The Beauty Trap: How the pressure to conform to society’s and the media’s standards of beauty leave women experiencing body dissatisfaction
    Savi-Çakar, F., Savi-Karayol, S. (2015). The Impact of Body Image and Self-Esteem on Turkish Adolescents’ Subjective Well-Being.
  • Fredrickson, B., Roberts, T. (1997). OBJECTIFICATION THEORY: Towards Understanding Women’s Lived Experiences and Mental Health Risks
  • Barke, E., Bornstein, M. (2013). Global Self-Esteem, Appearance Satisfaction, and Self-Reported Dieting in Early Adolescence




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