How we feel about our bodies is often intertwined with how we feel about ourselves as a whole. Maybe you are struggling with what you see when you look in the mirror, or are finding yourself increasingly self-conscious as swimsuit season approaches. This article will explore what body image is, the consequences of poor body image and strategies for moving towards self-acceptance.
What Is Body Image & How Does It Form?
Body image can be defined as an individual’s thoughts and attitudes about their physical appearance. It includes how an individual feels in their body, and the beliefs that they have about their appearance.
There are many factors that shape our body image starting at a young age. Cultural messages about the ‘ideal body’ as portrayed in the media and comments from family members or peers all influence how we come to perceive our bodies. Despite popular misconception, body image is not just an issue facing women. People of all genders, ages and walks of life experience challenges with body dissatisfaction and self-acceptance.
Harmful Effects Of Negative Body Image
Having a negative body image is connected with low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. It can lead an individual to go to extreme measures to alter their body size such as restrictive eating or over-exercise. Poor body image increases one’s risk for developing an eating disorder, as well as other mental health conditions such as mood disorders and body dysmorphic disorder. For more information about mental health disorders and their symptoms, visit Mind Diagnostics.
5 Tips For Boosting Your Body Image:
1. Make a list of the traits you like about yourself that are not related to your physical appearance.
Take the time to jot down everything that you like about yourself, whether it’s being a caring friend or your creativity. This practice is helpful for reminding you of all of your amazing qualities and all that you have to offer to the world that is not connected to what you look like. Whenever you are feeling negatively about yourself, you can take it out and reference it to remind yourself of how wonderful you are.
2. Challenge negative thoughts.
While this is much easier said than done, focus on countering negative thoughts about your body with positive affirmations or a mantra. Try to shift your focus from specific body parts to seeing yourself as others see you, as a whole person. Surround yourself with people who can encourage you in embracing yourself just as you are.
3. Be mindful about the media you are consuming.
A 2017 study found a connection between the posts we view on social media and how we feel about our bodies. While you are scrolling through your feed, keep in mind that you are seeing the highlight reels of others after various takes and several rounds of editing. Unfollow any accounts that are promoting unrealistic body ideals or are making you feel bad about yourself. If you find that social media is still negatively impacting your body image, limit the time you spend on it altogether.
4. Appreciate all that your body does for you on a daily basis.
Cultivating gratitude for all that your body does can provide a different perspective. Reminding yourself that your body is what allows you to explore nature, play with your dog, and laugh with your family can transform the way you view it. Instead of fixating on changing your body, you can come to appreciate the amazing ways it functions to sustain you from day to day.
5. Engage in meaningful activities that make you feel good about yourself.
Building your life around engaging in your passions, helping others and making an impact in the world can move your focus away from your body. Remind yourself that your worth is not tied to your physical appearance and that you are perfect exactly as you are.
Seeking Support For Body Image Concerns
If you find that you are continuing to experience body image concerns that are negatively impacting your mental health, consider reaching out to a mental health professional for further support. Developing a healthier relationship with your body is a process and a therapist can work with you in moving towards self-acceptance.