Conclusions and implications
The preceding chapters have summarised existing work on men’s and women’s body image, and have painted a picture of degree of body dissatisfaction in the average Western man or woman. From what we know about the impact of the effects of membership of particular cultural groups (gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality and age), being white and being heterosexual are likely to predict body dissatisfaction in women. Age or class are unlikely to have a significant impact. Men are likely to be more satisfied in general, although older, white and gay men may be expected to be most dissatisfied. The average woman could be expected to have dieted to try to lose weight, and the average man is probably not highly motivated to diet or exercise even if he perceives a mismatch between his current body and his ideal body image. If he does change his behaviour he will probably exercise. Women are likely to feel dissatisfaction with hips, thighs, ‘stomachs’ and breasts; men are more likely to be dissatisfied with ‘stomachs’ and general muscle tone. Most women want to lose weight, whereas men are equally likely to want to be heavier or lighter.