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Title: Men's experience of body image : an interpretative phenomenological analysis
Author: Augustine, T. J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2701 4381
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2010
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The current research study sought to investigate the phenomenon of body image in males. Over the past decade there has been an increase in research in the area of male body image. This has been due to a number of factors including the rise in the visibility of the male body in popular culture (Gill et al, 2005) which some men may experience an increasing pressure to conform to (De Souza & Ciclitira, 2005; Fawkner & McMurray, 2002). The documented rise in the prevalence of eating disorders in men (Copperman, 2000) may also be of interest as body image dissatisfaction is believed to be a central factor in understanding eating disorders (Connan, 1998). The current study aims to develop existing research in this area by exploring the impact of changing social and cultural contextso n men's experienceso f their body image. These aims were achieved by using a qualitative approach, employing Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Participants were recruited between the ages of 24- 30 and a total of seven participants were interviewed throughout the London and Kent area. Male gym users, who may have a particular interest in their body image, were selected as a suitable sample in which to discuss their experiences of their body image and their masculine identity. The semi- structured interview method was chosen for the collection of data. The interviews were then analysed using IPA to provide an in-depth account of men's subjective experiences and meaning making processes in relation to their body images and masculinities, and sociocultural influences that can impact on these. The results highlighted the key finding of `conflict and masculinity' which encapsulates the on-going tension that emerged for many of the participants when making sense of their body image. Discussion surrounded the importance of body image in the construction of a masculine identity whilst at the same time body image was experienced as `non- masculine'. From the data, the main issues to arise focused on the symbolic meaning of body image and the extent to which this impacted on the participant's identity and self esteem. This included the themes of `success' and `control and mastery' that one could achieve through their body image. The media and one's peer group also emerged as a salient influence for some of the participants. It is proposed that the clinical implications of the current study may be particularly relevant when working with men where body image concerns are a central component to their psychological distress. This study highlights the different meanings and functions that body image may have for an individual. Counselling Psychologists therefore may approach this issue with male clients by exploring individual meanings and the relationship body image has with masculinities and social and cultural contexts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available