Within the media industry there have recently been popular debates focusing on how Size Zero models can negatively influence young people into feeling insecure about their own body image. It has been suggested that size zero models be banned from cat walks. Many celebrities are targeted by the media due to their often drastic weight loss and slender frames, examples of such personalities would be Spice Girl and wife of L.A Galaxy soccer player David Beckham, Victoria Beckham, famous socialite and daughter of Lionel Richie, Nicole Richie and British Super Model Kate Moss. Some examples of celebrity men targeted in a similar fashion can be found, but the media seem to focus principally on the effect that the Size Zero phenomenon has on young women. Media however, is generally quick to denounce celebrities endorsing fad diets, including popstars who describe girls who are not under a peer pressurized size, a "social suicide.
Body image is often measured by asking the subject to rate their current and ideal body shape using a series of depictions. The difference between these two values is the amount of body dissatisfaction. Monteath and McCabe found that 44% of women express negative feelings about both individual body parts and their bodies as a whole. Psychology Today found that 56% of the women and about 40% of the men who responded to their survey in 1997 were dissatisfied with their overall appearance.
The desire to lose weight is highly correlated with poor body image, which typically means that more women have a poor body image than men. Susan Kashubeck-West, Laurie B. Mintz, and Ingrid Weigold report that the sex differences in body image disappear when we consider only those people who are trying to lose weight.
Men's body image is a topic of increasing interest in both academic articles and in the popular press. Current research indicates many men wish to become more muscular than they currently perceive themselves to be, often desiring up to 26 pounds of additional muscle mass.
The desire for additional muscle has been linked to many men's concepts about masculinity. A variety of research has indicated a relationship between men's endorsement of traditionally masculine ideas and characteristics, and his desire for additional muscle. Some research has suggested this relationship between muscle and masculinity may begin early in life, as boys' action figures are often depicted as super-muscular, often beyond the actual limits of human physiology.
This desire for additional muscle has been given various nicknames, including "The Adonis Complex", "Bigorexia", "Reverse Anorexia", and "Muscle dysmorphia". Muscle dissatisfaction has been linked to low self esteem, personality disorder and is related to the use of muscle-building supplements and anabolic steroids. As such, men's body image dissatisfaction represents a substantial concern to public health researchers.
Ablation of those sensory nerves that carry sensory input from proprioceptors to the brain, results in a loss of proprioception. A person may experience such a loss in certain limbs, or throughout their entire body. In Oliver Sacks book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, he describes a patient named Christina who suffered from a selective neuritis—an infection in her spinal fluid that disconnected her entire body from the parietal cortices in her brain, causing a total loss of proprioception and therefore a sense of disembodiment. Christina would flail and overshoot her limbs. Her body flopped around like a rag doll. Standing or sitting straight was nearly impossible for her.
Many amputees who have lost limbs continue to sense the presence of them as the body-image remains intact. Even those born without arms or legs can experience such phantoms. Often, the presence of these phantoms are so convincing that patients may attempt to step out of bed onto phantom legs or feet, or attempt to pick up cups with a phantom hand (Ronald Melzack, 1992-2006).
A phantom limb is integral to wearing a prosthetic, in which the phantom fits like a glove. The body-image of the missing limb must be present, otherwise a prosthetic cannot be used effectively.
There are many types of phantoms. Some are paralyzed; frozen in unusual positions. Many phantoms are like photocopies; exact replicas of the missing limbs. Others are grossly distorted and disproportioned. They may even be disconnected from the rest of the body and dangle in mid-air. Some disappear, only to be resurrected decades later. Interestingly, a woman may have a phantom penis with phantom erections. While the overall sex of a human being is determined by DNA, it is possible that the sex of the brain itself is determined by the hormones an embryo is exposed to while in the womb. Nonetheless, a man may have a female brain, and a woman may have a male brain. This phenomenon may explain transsexualism.
The somatosensory system has been known to be involved in phantom limb syndrome. According to V.S. Ramachandran, motor signals contribute to phantom limb phenomenon as well. The motor cortex is primarily responsible for voluntary movement. But when motor signals are sent to muscles, a duplicate signal is sent to the parietal lobes as well in a feedback loop, thereby eliciting a sense of proprioception in the missing limb.
The body-image also emerges from the convergence of multiple senses (i.e. proprioception and vision) in the angular gyrus and supramarginal gyrus. The body-image can detach from the physical body, and take on a phantom existence of its own. Note that electrical stimulation of the angular gyrus causes an out-of-body experience, a decoupling of vision and proprioceptive sensory experience.
Also, some patients with anosognosia, usually left-side hemiplegics who have suffered from a stroke, experience a disassociation with their paralyzed limbs. Some may be convinced that their paralyzed leg for example, is not really theirs—perhaps the leg of a stranger. They will assert that their real leg has disappeared, and in this conclusion, attempt to shove or kick their own leg out of bed. This kind of anosognosia involves lesions on the right side of the brain—notably the somatosensory and parietal cortices.
There have been a lot of suggestions and treatments to prevent obesity, but it seems like the scale is still going up. In the article Issue for DSM- V: Should Obesity Be Included as a Brain Disorder by Nora Volkow and Charles O’ Brien the author challenge the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in whether obesity should be included in DSM V. They argue that “DSM- IV recognizes eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia as mental disorders with severe impairments and serious adverse outcomes, but does not recognize obesity despite its devastating medical and psychological consequences. Obesity characterized by compulsive consumption of food and the inability to restrain from eating despite the desire to do so. These symptoms are remarkably parallel to those described in DSM IV for substance abuse and drug dependence, which has led some to suggest that obesity may be considered “food addiction.”