An individual's body image is controlled by the physical power over their body, which creates their self-identity within society. This control is being done both by the individual and the culture they are living in. For example, the reading about the football players and other male athletes shows how males are forced to physically control their bodies and restrain to reveal pain in order to uphold their masculinity within American society. The masculine body image creates the ideal for self-identity for these male athletes and pressures them to silence and endure their pain, even to hazardous levels. Pain/injuries are then being normalized within American society and by individuals in order uphold the self-identity of a masculine body image. This image also increases the competition for "successful" images of masculinity through aggression, strength, and unhealthy levels of endurance, which are pathways to self-identity as a male. Not only are male athletes straining themselves to be extremely masculine men, but are silencing themselves, or by coaches and peers, of showing and expressing any amount of pain. Male athletes even go so far as to denying pain and injuries and "intense pain is controlled an masked" (Sabo and Gorden 173).
An example of female body control is anorexia. Anorexia serves as a pathway to achieving a cultured self-identity through the physical control over the female body. Again, both the individual and culture is controlling the body because society is controlling the stereotype and norm, and women are then controlling their bodies in order to gain their self-identity within the stereotype. Women are typically associated with their bodies more than men, and therefore anorexia fits perfectly into the trend of women being associated with the thinness of their bodies. Anorexia is a way to help them achieve, in an unhealthy manner, their goal of self-identity by cutting of food intake through self-control over the mind and body. The control over not eating or having an unhealthy and irregular diet are the main skills needed to be an anorexic. In order to have control of establishing self-identity, a woman must have control over her body image through the physical control through something like anorexia.
Both women and men want an identity, but the pressure and force of American society and culture defines identity as self-control over the body. Therefore, men and women must learn how to either silence their pain or starve themselves to gain their self-identity through their bodies. The imagery of the body has taken priority over the male and female health because the physical control of the body is being attained through unnatural and unhealthy techniques such as injury-endurance and eating habits. Physical alterations and unnatural control are being naturalized, which creates the body image that establishes a person's identity. Men and women must then unnaturalize themselves in order to become the redefined version of what is physically natural for one's body image. Body image within American society is distorted and inaccurate, yet it has become the norm that pressures citizens to uphold the stereotypes in order to gain self-identity through their body.