Body image refers to how people see themselves which involves forming your perceptions of your body’s attractiveness, health, acceptability and functionality in early childhood.
Distorted body image or negative body image refers to an unrealistic view of how someone sees their body.
It is prevalent most commonly among women, but many men also suffer from the disorder. This body image continues to form as you age and receive feedback from peers, family member, coaches, etc. Traits such as self criticism and perfectionism can also influence the development of a negative internalized image of your body.
Symptoms of unhealthy or negative body image may include:
• obsessive self scrutiny in mirrors
• thinking disparaging comments about your body and frequent comparison of your own shape and size to other people
• envy or a friend’s body, or just as commonly, the body of a celebrity or someone else in the media.
One of the major reasons behind negative body image happens to be the global beauty standards and unrealistic notions surrounding those standards glorified and perpetuated across global platforms
What you need to ask yourself is if you are regularly criticizing your own appearance?
An anorexic young woman may look at herself in a mirror and see a reflection that is greater than her actual size.
Conversely, it is not uncommon for obese individuals to report that they did not realize they were as large as they are and had perceived their body as much smaller until an occasion arises where they see a photograph, video or window reflection that strikes a nerve and causes them to come to terms with their actual image.
A study found that 63% of female participants identified weight as the key factor in determining how they felt about themselves – more important than family, school, or career. Another research suggests that 86% of all women are dissatisfied with their bodies and want to lose weight.
Women and adolescent girls regard size, much like weight, as a definitive element of their identity. Some girls assume there is something wrong with their bodies when they cannot fit consistently into some “standard” size; others will reject a pair of jeans simply because they won’t wear a particular size.
The majority of girls step on the scale to determine their self-worth; if they have lost weight, then it is a good day and they can briefly feel “okay” about themselves. If the number on the scale has increased ever so slightly, then the day is ruined and they feel worthless.
Body image has now become intertwined with one’s weight, and therefore, if women are not happy with their weight, they cannot possibly be satisfied with their bodies. Unfortunately, girls and women take this a step farther and rationalize that negative body image is directly equated to self-image.
How to deal with Negative Body Image
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy an approach where irrational thoughts are recognized, analyzed and restructured to more rational self talk, is frequently used. Additionally, dance and movement therapy are often employed to develop a greater trust and appreciation of one’s body based upon creating internal experiences, rather than simply evaluated one’s body aesthetically.
Put body image in perspective
Instead of spending so much time obsessing over your outer self – consider focusing your attention on education, hobbies and socializing with your friends. Keeping your mind engaged will help you notice others with the same interests. Working to get fit and healthy is an admirable goal but it should never consume your life.
Know your body and accept it
It might be a matter of inheritance. For all you know, perhaps you inherited your mother’s larger hips or your father’s height and broad shoulders. Our genetics are unique to every person and learning to love your body is the first step in working with your particular body size and shape.
Surround yourself with positive people who lift you up – who contribute to your happiness – and look to them when you falter in your goals. Whether you need help sticking to a healthy eating plan, a buddy to workout with, a personal trainer to show you how to do the exercise that is right for you or someone to discuss emotional issues with – ASK. There are so many people willing and able to help.