Body image issues are concerned with both how you view yourself and how you perceive others as viewing you.
- Do you often feel that your looks do not measure up to what society, family, friends, and the media expect?
- Do you have feelings of inadequacy and tend to compare themselves to others?
If the answers to these questions are yes, you may likely have a negative body image.
Cultural heritage, peer groups, and of course the media and advertising all have an influence on body image. It’s important to remember that any imperfections no matter how insignificant in photographs are airbrushed out and a lot of editing is done to make models and celebrities appear the way they do.
Looking this way is unobtainable and a false reflection of reality. If you are striving to achieve something which is impossible it will have a negative impact on your mental health.
The eating disorder association has found that people who have a negative body image are more likely to develop an eating disorder and also at a greater risk of suffering feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and obsessions with weight loss.
It’s really important to address self esteem and body image, because if you are struggling with this, you may spend more and more time trying to change your actual body shape, thinking you are not muscular enough or pretty enough when these thoughts are untrue and are the results of distorted thinking. All this time could be spent enjoying yourself and your loved ones, or pursuing your dreams and passions.
Negative body image can also be very dangerous to your mental health because if you have low body image you assume that others value you based on your appearance, and you are placing your own worth on what you look like. None of this is healthy. Have a think about what you want to be remembered for at the end of your life…. What would you remember a good friend for – would it be having perfect hair, or having a beautiful heart?
4 Steps to Improving your body Image
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
We were born with a genetic make up that determines the basis of how we look and act. We were all created to be different, to look unique, to be individual and have different personalities. Improve your self esteem and body image today by celebrating your uniqueness and understanding your worth isn’t based in how you look.
1. Make a list of the things that your body does for you on a daily basis and any skills you have – your body is amazing and it is time to have body gratitude and respect rather than body hate.
2. Starting to think and say accepting body thoughts instead of negative thoughts will really help you on your journey to a positive body image where you feel confident and comfortable in your body. Think about what you are thinking about – this is the first step to changing your thought life!
3. You can improve your self esteem and body image by being aware of the media that you are reading/listening to. If you are struggling with a low body image it can be helpful to refuse to listen to anything that tells you that you need to look a certain way, or change your body shape. Celebrate and accept your own body shape. Be careful not to buy magazines that are covered in impossible to achieve body shapes.
4. Be wary of comparing yourself to others – comparing yourself to others will always lead to a negative outcome because you are not supposed to be or look like that person, you are an individual, unique person.
If you feel that your body image problem is more severe, and is related to a specific body part, you may be suffering from BDD (body dysmorphic disorder). Dr Veale who works with the BDD foundation states “it is difficult to draw the line where body dissatisfaction stops and BDD starts.” This condition affects up to one in 50 people, who studies suggest are at a greater risk of suicide than the general population.
If you are concerned about BDD or body image issues do get help – you do not have to suffer alone.
Note: Negative body image does not cause eating disorders – eating disorders are brain based biological illnesses, however negative body image may help to trigger the eating disorder, may be a result of an eating disorder, and or may be a factor in its continuity. If you have an eating disorder the first step to a healthy body image is to get professional help and recovery through weight restoration/full nutrition