It is not a surprise to most people that health studies point to popular culture as a perpetrator of body image which has corresponded to self image and well being of women AND men.
What may surprise you is that this is not a new phenomenon.
Is rail thin appearance of runway and magazine models a new obsession which has started young girls and women on a path towards starvation, malnutrition and disorders such as anorexia and bulimia?
The western world created a popular culture of 'you can never be to thin' as early as 20's when flapper styles caused women to starve and over exercise their bodies to attain flat chested, androgynous look that was popular at that time.
The fuller figure did make a comeback during depression, but quickly reverted in 60's with thinness being equated with physical beauty.
Studies on self image indicate that women tend to consider themselves heavier than they really are. This distorted body image is linked to unhealthy dietary practices like anorexia and bulimia.
Although distorted body image affects men and women of all age ranges, it is middle and upper class women who are most commonly affected in thinking they are too heavy and need to loose weight. Girls as young as nine are following paths set down by mothers, sisters and others.
On other hand, men with body image problems often feel they are too thin and use of steroids by youths trying to build muscle mass shows that they are also adversely affected by media portrayals of body.
Bad self image is learned. This can be clearly illustrated by a study conducted by WHO with Canadian students. The study showed that confidence of children dropped dramatically through pre-teen years. The percentage of 11 year old boys and girls who felt confident all of time was 47% and 35% respectively. By age 15 percentage dropped to 30% for boys and a disappointing 14% for girls.