Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Body Image, Partners Support and Sexual Health

One component of sexual health is body image. One critique of sexually explicit material is that it sets unrealistic expectations for men and women regarding body image as well as genital image. Without a doubt, mainstream American culture worships the perfect body and sets unrealistic expectations for both men and women.

Researchers continue to examine contributing factors to struggles regarding body image. Research suggests that a person’s self-image is linked to the partner’s response. As one could guess, individual who struggle with body image issues have a better response to treatment progress with the support of a primary romantic partner. Individuals who receive this support have less stress and anxiety. Negative reactions from partners led to increased struggles with body image.

There are three implications that I think are important. First, for individuals who struggle with body image issues, the key is to gain support from the primary partner. Second, if the partner isn’t supportive, I think it is important to address the negative impact of the partner’s behavior. As you could guess, hearing “Your fat.” isn’t going to help individuals address body image. Third, as one could guess, partners are also pummeled by the same cultural messages. Partners may need training and education as well as feedback regarding providing the necessary support.

Much of this appears to be common sense. Explicit positive and negative messages about a person’s body can easily be recognized for the. The difficulty, however, lies is recognizing implicit, hidden, or subtle positive and/or negative messages. For individuals struggling with sexual health concerns, assessing the messages is important.

Weller, J & Dziegielewski S. (2004) The Relationship Between Romantic Partner Support Styles and Body Image Disturbance Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 10(2) DOI: 10.1300/J137v10n02_04

No comments:

Post a Comment