A satisfying sex life is considered an important element of a person’s overall health and quality of life. Popular media has become an important factor in shaping a person’s perception of the ‘perfect body.’ Popular media links physical appearance with sexual success. Popular media is full of images of young beautiful people with perfect bodies engaged in an intimate embrace, or connecting sexually and emotionally.
Sexuality and sexual satisfaction is a multidimensional experience which involves feelings, personal and socio-cultural attitudes and beliefs, combined with biological factors. Research has indicated that a satisfying sex life is a critical element of overall health and happiness. And sexuality plays an important role in all intimate relationships. The clearest forecaster of sexual satisfaction includes overall relationship satisfaction, commitment, stability, marital quality, and communication.
Body image is defined as a multidimensional construct of the self, consisting of how individuals think, feel and behave relative to their own physical attributes. We all construct our body image throughout our lifetime. Society influences the creation of body image by determining values and socio-cultural norms. Popular media shapes the attitudes of young people towards body image and promotes the idea that a perfect body will be a means to achieve sexual success and satisfaction.
Research has linked a person’s attitude toward their body with, self-esteem, interpersonal confidence, eating and exercise behaviours, grooming, sexual behaviour, and emotional stability. A negative body image may impact upon a person’s overall sense of self and their global self-evaluation. Research suggests that those with a positive body image engage in more frequent sexual experiences, have a broader ranger of sexual activities, and feel more sexually desirable. Alternatively, those who report a negative body image, experienced lower sexual satisfaction, lower sexual self-esteem, greater sexual avoidance and anxiety with a more restricted sexual experience. Also individuals who reported a positive body image were less likely to experience sexual problems then those with a negative body image.
Most of the previous research into body image has predominantly focused on female participants. Recent research has now focused on the impact popular media has uponyoung men. It has been suggested that body dissatisfaction in males is more likely to be associated with being underweight rather than overweight. This is a marked difference to young women. Low self-esteem, depression and overall body dissatisfaction is more likely to occur in males who are underweight. This is a relatively recent phenomenon and has been dubbed the “Adonis complex of Attractiveness.” Men who have been exposed to an ideal image of attractiveness and muscularity become significantly more depressed and experience high level of muscle dissatisfaction compared to those who were exposed to neutral ads. These are similar findings to the research into body image satisfaction with women.
Long ago research established a link between active lifestyle and a decrease in the risk of chronic diseases. But there now appears other benefits to an active lifestyle which may go beyond just our desire to decrease the risk of chronic disease.
Christopher Swane - Relationship Counselling and Psychotherapy - Wellington New Zealand