Not all eating disorders, particularly bulimia and anorexia, are reserved for females – males can also present with these diseases. However, studies have shown that when it comes to body image dissatisfaction, college-age women are disproportionally affected when compared to men.
These body image issues will often manifest into eating disorders. One theory that has some relation with the looking glass perception of self says that people look at themselves as they actually are, as they strive to be and the person others see them as. But when it comes to a negative self image where the body is the subject (not the intelligence or facial structure or other areas where the looking glass is applicable), exactly what moods are triggered from a self-discrepancy theory are not known.
Penn State University examined depressed mood states as they relate to body image dissatisfaction. A researcher from the university enrolled more than 60 women in the study, all of which had some degree of body image dissatisfaction. The women were all of a young age as the study was trying to examine how children’s early distortions regarding their self-image may progress into unhealthy attitudes later in life not only about body image, but about eating and food. The study is consistent with others that find that children age 11 and older who are showing negative self-discrepancy are at a higher risk for developing eating problems.
The report states that media, peers and parents all have an effect on how children rate their appearance. It is not as clear, however, whether sociocultural factors affect children who are younger, although there has been recent evidence which shows that appearance messages conveyed by peers and the media may not impact children at a very young age.