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Societal Pressures Shape Health and Body Perception Essay


It is a well-known fact that societal norms and standards shape people’s minds. Sometimes, individuals try to live according to the rules that other people (who surround them on a regular basis) follow regarding their health, appearances, lifestyles, and so on. This culture also significantly influences a person’s behavior, goals, values, health, and other essential factors that form one’s individuality. Social media is another factor that shapes our minds and even dictates various cultural norms. It is necessary for people to understand and control their individual environments, choose appropriate societies to communicate with every day, and avoid following trends on social media. Otherwise, the tremendous psychological and cultural influence might destroy all the wise principles and values present in the person’s both mind and body. The following paper will present a discussion of how does society shapes individuals’ health and beauty ideals and how does their health and beauty ideals shape their social experiences.


Recently, many social media sources were accused of enforcing what is called “a thin ideal” that is followed predominately by adolescents (Tiggemann and Zaccardo 61). As the attention of other people is important for teenagers, they strive to change their bodies according to different standards promoted via social networks (Facebook and Instagram), television, and other popular media (for instance, YouTube). Almost all popular personalities demonstrate their skinny bodies, and hence their followers consider these figures to be attractive as they like their idols’ appearances. “Acute exposure to fitspiration images led to increased negative mood and body dissatisfaction and decreased state appearance self-esteem relative to travel images” (Tiggemann and Zaccardo 61). Therefore, many high-school and college students follow different diets and maintain healthy lifestyles to fit these cultural norms established by bloggers and other celebrities on social media.

Continuing the topic of teenagers’ intentions to become skinnier, it would be proper to mention that many of them disregard their health and the concept of being fit in general. Instead of consuming healthy meals and do sports, some adolescents refuse to eat (Tiggemann and Zaccardo 61). Unfortunately, the body shapes that they find attractive are rather skinny than fit (usually, adolescents do not even see the difference between these two words). Nowadays, overweight teenagers can be made fun of at schools or universities, which makes them feel awkward among their fit peers (Tiggemann and Zaccardo 62). Therefore, they start to exercise and eat less. Despite the fact that all these activities are positive for a person’s body, they can adversely impact people who do not have any appropriate knowledge and experience.

Poverty is one of the most significant factors that influence people’s both health and wellness. The number of poor U.S. citizens amounts to 43.1 million people (according to the statistics calculated in 2015) (Walker and Druss 727). This community does not have enough financial means to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It appears that the majority of infectious diseases are transmitted by people living in trailer parks or other inappropriate housing conditions. Because of the lack of money, these individuals cannot afford high-quality medicaments and effective treatment of their diseases. Also, the rate of people addicted to drugs is higher among poor societies comparing to that of higher-income classes (Walker and Druss 728). Moreover, these people do not eat healthy food, which appears to be relatively expensive in the United States of America. The absence of healthy diets may lead to problems with skin, cardiovascular system, stomach, and other vital organs of humans. It is an interesting fact that almost all people who live in poverty do not feel happy, which makes an adverse impact on their both emotional and psychological health (Walker and Druss 727). However, it is impossible to satisfy human self-esteem needs without improving one’s living conditions and incomes necessary to buy appropriate products and medicine.

Indeed, our appearances and social experiences are interrelated. To begin with, it is important to state that many contemporary adolescents and even adults do not have many friends because of a wide range of factors, including shyness, self-esteem, and so on (Tiggemann and Zaccardo 62). Usually, individuals who have various health problems and unusual appearances are ashamed of these issues and do not feel confident in public places. Unfortunately, this makes such people hesitate, and hence they might not have enough volition to get acquainted with some personalities.

It is an interesting fact that there are many celebrities and other successful personalities who do not meet all the standards common in social media. Instead, they are satisfied with their bodies and consider their appearances to be unique (Tiggemann and Zaccardo 62). This quality has to be pertinent to every person, regardless of different trends and cultural standards. Unfortunately, there are many prejudices against personalities with contradictive body shapes or outfits. Hence they can be offended by someone or even humiliated. Nevertheless, if these people have enough volition to establish their own trends, they can inspire their peers to be like them. Health also plays a major role in one’s social experiences. Unfortunately, the majority of healthy individuals prefer to avoid people with evident body defects or infectious diseases.

People from one society divided into minor groups by interests. There are also many individuals who cannot identify their interests, and hence they always look for new friends or acquaintances. This is one of the most significant psychological or even societal problems when an individual seeks something new and more attractive after remaining a part of one environment for an extended period (Lewis 473). In the modern world, the majority of people in developed countries follow the tendency to maintain healthy lifestyles. This factor divides populations into certain categories (vegetarians, vegans, the ones who prefer to consume only raw food, and several others) (Rosenfeld and Burrow 458).

This division has influenced the origination of separate groups or even health cults that focus on their lifestyles and diets. To some extent, these popular movements can be claimed to affect society positively. “In addition to the many studies that link the behavioral immune system to prejudices against people who belong to specific kinds of social categories, additional lines of research document its implications for additional cognitive biases pertaining to the perception of social categories” (Murray and Schaller 95). Nevertheless, their representatives often blame other individuals (who do not support their worldviews regarding their diets) for not being like them. This is a tremendous problem that creates mind gaps between societies and puts psychological barriers among people with opposite opinions.

The state of mind of different social groups must change – the mentality of these people is set to discriminate against other individuals who (in their opinion) represent the lowest layers of the social hierarchy (Gass and Seiter 76). Another problem is that the societies described above focus their lives on the promotion and even obsession with healthy food and diets, whereas other considerations become less important than usual. For instance, there were many cases when people concentrated on their beauty and health ruined their relationships with relatives and families (Tiggemann and Zaccardo 65). Moreover, it is essential to mention that opinions of societal groups must not be promoted and dictated to the ones who do not have similar worldviews and ideas (Gass and Seiter 89). This problem can be solved by letting other people know about the existence of such health-focused societies, but their opinions regarding the diets of others must not be expressed and used to blame people for their ideals and norms of life. Again, this rule cannot be legally regulated. Therefore, the mentality of new subcultures must change from the inside of their fellowship circles (Gass and Seiter 89).


It is a popular fact that people’s minds are influenced by the preferences and commitments of their idols or friends. Unfortunately, not many individuals strive to adhere to their own ideas and principles (regarding their health, beauty, and bodies). Some personalities follow various public figures and hence, perceive their appearances as their ideals. They do not want to promote their own understandings and worldviews to make their peers interested in what they consider to be right. There are no right or inappropriate ideas today because every person (from developed countries) is free and is allowed to follow his or her own considerations when choosing meals and individuals to communicate with on a regular basis.

Works Cited

Gass, Robert H., and John S. Seiter. Persuasion: Social Influence, and Compliance Gaining. 5th ed., Routledge, 2018.

Lewis, Sarah. “Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches.” Health Promotion Practice, vol. 16, no. 4, Feb. 2015, pp. 473–475.

Murray, Damian R., and Mark Schaller. “The Behavioral Immune System: Implications for Social Cognition, Social Interaction, and Social Influence.” Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 53, no. 2, 2016, pp. 75–129.

Rosenfeld, Daniel L., and Anthony L. Burrow. “Vegetarian on Purpose: Understanding the Motivations of Plant-Based Dieters.” Appetite, vol. 116, no. 1, 2017, pp. 456–463.

Tiggemann, Marika, and Mia Zaccardo. ““Exercise to be fit, not skinny”: The effect of fitspiration imagery on womens body image.” Body Image, vol. 15, no. 1, 2015, pp. 61–67.

Walker, Elizabeth Reisinger, and Benjamin G. Druss. “Cumulative burden of comorbid mental disorders, substance use disorders, chronic medical conditions, and poverty on health among adults in the U.S.A.” Psychology, Health & Medicine, vol. 22, no. 6, 2016, pp. 727–735.

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"Societal Pressures Shape Health and Body Perception." IvyPanda, 22 Sept. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/societal-pressures-shape-health-and-body-perception/.

1. IvyPanda. "Societal Pressures Shape Health and Body Perception." September 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/societal-pressures-shape-health-and-body-perception/.


IvyPanda. "Societal Pressures Shape Health and Body Perception." September 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/societal-pressures-shape-health-and-body-perception/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Societal Pressures Shape Health and Body Perception." September 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/societal-pressures-shape-health-and-body-perception/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Societal Pressures Shape Health and Body Perception'. 22 September.

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