Background of study
Obesity is a state where the natural energy preserve, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and it is increased to a level where it is connect with certain health state or increased mortality (Sidik & Rampal, 2009). Obesity is a vital public health problem especially in developed countries like United States where half of the adolescents are afflicted (Sidik & Rampal). Today’s adolescents in most parts of the world emphasis on the value of physical attractiveness. They focus more on physical appearance. Hence, body image has become an issue among adolescents who strive fully to obtain the shape they wish for.
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Body image can be defined as a person’s perception, attitude and feeling about his or her body. There are two types of body image. Firstly, perceptual body image. According to (Lee, & Yee, 2013), perceptual body image is associated to the precision of self- estimation from body size to actual size, meanwhile attitudinal body image is evaluated through four components: satisfaction (evaluation of the body), affect (feelings associated with the body), cognitions (investment in appearance, beliefs about the body), and behaviors (avoidance where the body will be exposed). Adolescence is a transitional stage and many changes take place at physiological and behavioral level. In the West, body image is perceived as an important issue as they emphasis more on elegant body. The concerns about body image have been critized that it is a female problem, however that fact is certainly not true anymore. (Wagner, 2008). Just like females, males also wish to have excellent body image of muscular men through media, athletics and magazines such as sport magazines.
Stout & Frame’s study (2004), as cited in Wagner (2008), points out people has a bold awareness of the consequences of body image on females compared to males. This awareness allows for a developed sensitivity towards females; however that sensitivity tends to neglect males emotions and thoughts. According to Ricciardelli, McCabe, Lillis, & Thomas’s study (2006), as cited in Wagner (2008), the development of muscularity has arose over the last decade and the concern towards body image by males are of sudden interest.
As we know, poor body image can affect a particular individual confidence to achieve their goals and subsequently impacts the happiness of that particular individual. Poor body image occurs due to unhealthy eating habits which include dietary supplements, binge- eating and so on. (Lee,&Yee,2013). Due to this phenomenon, adolescents are struggling every single day in order to achieve the ideal body image they wanted. Malaysian adolescents are increasingly eating foods which are high in fat and calories thus leading inactive lives. According to Ismail & Tan’s study (2004), as cited in Pon, Kandiah, & Taib (2004), more adolescents are obese than ever before.
In this new era of globalization, the flawless body image is affecting almost every males and females, peoples from different cultural background, different group of ages and many more. It is harmful to have body image dissatisfaction as it always leads to eating disorder and psychological distress. This is because they tend to use harmful weight- control behaviors such as skipping meals, consuming slimming pills or applying cream on their body as to slim down in order to have the same body image as the model characterized in media. Therefore it is important to take prevention action and intervention in order to inhibit and treat body image since this issue can affect both individuals and society. Last but not least, exploring this research problem also allows us to focus more on body image issue especially among adolescents in Malaysia.
Significance of Study
Body image is a very important issue to most of the adolescents especially when they grow into adulthood. Many studies that focused on the body image have been conducted over the decade. However, while body image has been the focus of study in many countries such as United States and Korea, it is not immensely studied in Malaysia. This is because the studies on body image are restricted in Malaysia (EssayUk, 2013).
Therefore, the current research proposed additional information on the difference in the perception of body image among adolescents. More importantly, the difference in the perception of body image between adolescents and pre adolescence has not been studied (Wagner, 2008) as been cited in McCabe & Ricciardelli (2006).
Thus this study will focus on the perception of body image among ethnicity group, gender as well age group. It is important to know the differences in perception of body image in these groups because the result can produce understanding in order to further discussions and this can help on how the development could change perceptions on body image.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of the study is to evaluate on the differences in the perception of body image among Malaysian adolescents in the aspects of gender, age and ethnicity. The differences been evaluated between adolescents and pre adolescents, males and females and ethnicity which involved three races Chinese, Indian and Malays. Analyzing these differences could produce insight on creating with a better prevention and intervention program for adolescents who have problem with their body image.
The research question has been presented below as follow:
RQ 1: Is there any significance differences in the perception of body image between male and female.
RQ 2: Is there any significance differences in the perception of body image between pre adolescence and adolescence.
RQ 3: Is there any significance differences in the perception of body image among Malays, Chinese and Indian.
Body Image. As mention earlier, body image can be defined as a person perception, attitude and feeling about his or her body. Body image plays an important role for both the genders male and female (Pon, Kandiah, & Taib, 2004). When adolescents focus too much on their body image, they will skip their meals and this subsequently leads to eating disorder.
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Gender. Gender refers to the characteristics of people as males and females. Gender also bears a special mention which is the gender role (Santrock, 2011). Gender role describes on how females and males should think, act and feel. For example, should males be more dominant than females and should females be more emotional than males to others’ feelings? Although individuals are aware of their gender in early childhood, a new stage been added to gender with the onset of puberty and the sexual maturation.
Race. It refers to all humans belonging to the group of Homo sapiens, biological differences of human due to the interactions between hereditary and environmental factors and the non-existence of homogenous population. Genetic element of a population was subject to change as a result of diverse factors, history of migration in the past prevented the used of domination of certain geographical area to serve as basis for race and no national, religious, linguistic, cultural group or economic class that constitutes a race (American Association of Physical Anthropologists, 1996). The examples of dominant racial groups in this study consisted of Malay, Chinese, and Indian. This is the main races in Malaysia.
Adolescent. According to Cardwell’s study (2003), as been cited in Jennifer,(2011), adolescence is known as the stage of development arise between puberty and adulthood. This is the stage where the adolescence entered imprecisely 10-12 years and ends at 18-21 years old. There is little view about this period of development by different psychologists. For example, Erik Erikson clarifies the period of adolescence through the Identity versus Identity Confusion stage in his psychological stages (Berk, 2009).
Utar. Utar is known as University Tunku Abdul Rahman. Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), established under the UTAR Education Foundation, a not-for-profit organization. It was launched on 13 August 2002. UTAR is a dynamic University with four thriving Campuses- three in Klang Valley and one in Kampar, Perak. The Campuses in Klang Valley are located in Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur, and Bandar Sungai Long. The largest campus is the Kampar campus. We are focusing adolescents from Perak Campus between eighteen to twenty four groups of ages.
SMK Sentosa Kampar. SMK Sentosa Kampar is located at Taman University. This school is near to Utar hostels. They have students from form one to form five. It’s a multiracial school consists of Malays, Chinese and Indians. In our research, we are focusing on pre adolescents among these races and age range of thirteenth to fifteenth.
Pre adolescence. Is a stage of human developmentfollowingearly childhoodand prior toadolescence.It subsequently ends with the beginning ofpuberty, but may also be defined as ending with the start of the teenage years.For example 10–13 years.It can also be defined as the period from 9–14 years.It can also distinguish middle childhood and preadolescence middle childhood from approximately 5–8 years, as opposed to the time children are generally considered to reach preadolescence (age 9–14 years).
Dittmar H. (2009). How do body perfect ideals in the media have a negative impact on body image and behavior?. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 28(1), pp. 1-8.
Wagner,R.R. (2008).Body Image Perceptions of Adolescents Males, pp. 44
Wan,P.L., Kandiah,M., & Mohd Taib,M.N. (2004).Body Image Perception, Dietary Practices and Physical Activity of Overweight and Normal Weight Malaysian Females Adolescents,10(2), 137-147.
Wong,L.M., & Say,Y.H. (2013). Gender Differences in Body Image Perception among Northern Malaysian Tertiary Students. British Journal of Medicine & Medical Research, 3(3), pp. 727-747.
Sidik,S.M., & Rampal,L. (2009). The Prevalence and factors associated with obesity among adult women in Selangor, Malaysia. doi:10.1186/1447-056X-8-2
Yau,J.P. (2011).Perception of Body- Esteem Among Adolescents And Adults.
Santrock, J.W. (2009). Life-span development (12th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill
American Association of Physical Anthropologists.(1996). AAPA statement on biological aspects of race. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 101, 569-570. Retrieved April 10, 2010 from http://www.virginia.edu/woodson/courses /aas102%20%28spring%2001%29/articles/AAPA_race.pdf
Berk, L.E. (2009). Child development (8th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education.
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