In the Shadow of the Ideal: An Ancient Perspective in the Modern Conversation About Body Image

Medina, Richard
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In ancient Greece, what was considered beautiful was also thought to be indicative of what was fundamentally good. The aim of this thesis is twofold: to explore which patterns of thought we've inherited from the ancient Greeks, and how those beliefs play out in our society today. Through the psychological mechanisms of internalization and social comparison, current visual media has made our society more vulnerable to body image disorders now more than ever. This thesis explains how our societal tendency to internalize and compare is rooted in Greek antiquity and the implications of pursuing aesthetics to the neglect of inner virtue. Lastly, I discuss how the philosophies proposed by Plato and Aristotle can be seen as preventative care to psychological disorders related to body image such as body dysmorphia and eating disorders.