Cultural influences affect the set of values and beliefs people accommodate in society. There are positive and negative social implications that are presented by cultural perspectives and socialization processes. Gender-based discrimination is a theme that is often facilitated by culture. Measures have been placed to remove chauvinistic elements that associate female gender roles with inferior responsibilities as compared to men; however, sexual objectification is a perpetuating challenge that affects the physical and mental health of women. Exploring the psychosocial implications can improve the efficiency of proposed interventions.
The research explores the psychosocial implications that affect women above the age of 18. Mostly, objectification of women leads to an emphasis on physical appearance as opposed to a holistic assessment of self. Largely, the specified population has been socialized to accept an observer’s interpretation of the female body image, which is used as a baseline for determining self-worth. An emphasis on physical traits, as defined by the observers, exposes women to a range of negative reflections on self. For instance, sexual objectification as endorsed by media outlets and adverts defines specific body images of women that are characterized as acceptable and desirable physical traits.
However, such classifications increase anxiety risks and expose women to shame. In turn, women who are dissatisfied with their body image may adopt coping mechanisms such as unhealthy eating patterns that sustain the negative psychosocial triggers. The objectification theory identifies risks associated with social influences. Particularly, the compromises on self-worth as facilitated by the objectification of the female body image may influence eating disorders, and unipolar depression (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). Moreover, sexual dysfunction may also occur. Consequently, variations in the mental health risks discussed may progress while the women transition in various stages of their lives.
Group-based interventions that address the mental health issues associated with destructive perceptions of body image involve a defined number of sessions whereby the patients interact with trained professionals. Group dynamics offer opportunities for sustaining a preferred outcome since the patients can identify a wide variety of triggers that are distributed across people with different cultural backgrounds. Moreover, group-based interventions facilitate an objective exploration of the causes and self-management approaches that women adopt before seeking help.
Notably, since dissatisfaction with body image is mostly influenced by society’s definition of the desirable body shape, a group-based intervention is critical in affirming the desired outcome because participants are in a position to reinforce positive thought patterns during interactions. Cognitive Behavioral Treatment (CBT) offers effective interventions that are either group-based or centered on individual approaches. Empirical research, on the relevance of group and individual responses to mental health issues associated with dissatisfaction based on body image, identified that while group-based initiatives offered successful outcomes, self-help approaches that involved limited interaction with the therapist may display similar results (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997).
However, the value of group-based approaches extends beyond the manifestation of positive thought patterns. While effects such as shame and anxiety can be addressed through individual and group interventions, structured treatment models that encourage sharing of experiences within group systems will be critical in sustaining the results due to the presence of a support network that understands the dynamic influences that attempt to disrupt positive change. Role-playing features are possible in group dynamics, and they offer patients with a range of perspectives related to the identification of triggers and potential resistance to the proposed change.
Motivational Interviewing involves a process with specific action plans that attempt to invoke willingness for change. Therefore, the strategy can be centered on women within the specified population, who experience negative thought patterns that sustain high-risk behaviors such as eating disorders or self-medication using alcohol. Essentially, motivational interviewing offers attitude adjustment features to women exposed to mental health issues associated with the objectification of their body image.
The various causes of dissatisfaction with body image among the population specified necessitate discussions on potential interventions. However, for the appropriate course of action to be implemented, an effective diagnosis has to be provided through a variety of approaches. Evidently, solutions to psychosocial challenges can only be sustained if the individuals within groups want to change. Therefore, it is critical that the therapist establishes links between existing negative attitudes and destructive behaviors to motivate the patients to take the recommended intervention plan (Szymanski, Moffitt & Carr, 2011).
Primarily, the purpose of the group is to identify the various cognitive processes that influence destructive thought patterns. Once the causes are identified, techniques can be adopted to reinforce positive influences. Moreover, motivational interviewing can be adopted to improve the patients’ engagement with proposed actions. Therefore, an insight-oriented therapy is utilized to establish the causes that were developed from previous experiences or environmental triggers.
For instance, dysfunctional relationships can significantly influence dissatisfaction with physical looks for women between the ages of 18 and 45. Therefore, the population should be aware of the implications of dysfunctional relationships, since some negative behaviors can be sustained years after the unhealthy relationship is terminated. Additionally, the action steps involved in the insight-oriented therapy should apply ethical principles as well as culturally sensitive strategies for a diverse group.
For the successful conclusion of the therapy program, clear goals have to be developed to ensure that all action plans are aligned with the intended outcome. Focus has to be placed on shifting perspectives of body image as opposed to empowering the women to change aspects of their physical appearance through exercise or healthy diets. Consequently, the goal of the program should be empowering women to appreciate their self-image and avoid seeking an observer’s interpretation of the appropriate physical appearance.
- Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T.-A. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women’s lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 173-206.
- Szymanski, D. M., Moffitt, L. B., & Carr, E. R. (2011). Sexual Objectification of Women: Advances to Theory and Research. Counseling Psychologist, 39, 1, 6-38.