Body image is the way you look and you think to yourself. Having a positive body image means, in most cases, you see yourself accurately, you feel comfortable in your body and you feel good about your appearance. It is common to struggle with body image, no matter who you are. A very negative body image can lead to eating disorders and exercise.
We all have a body image. We all have feelings about our appearance. In addition, we have thoughts and feelings about what other people think about our appearance. Our overall body image can vary from very positive to very negative. Perhaps you feel good about parts of your body or appearance, but not with respect to others, that’s totally normal. Body image is also the way you feel in your body; if you feel strong, capable, and attractive and in control.
Many of us struggle with our body image. Sometimes it is difficult to understand all the feelings we have about our bodies and ourselves. You may have questions about your body image and if you think or feel is normal. Here are answers to some common questions about body image.
What is body image actually?
Body image is what you feel and think when you look at yourself. It’s also how you think others see you. The way you feel about your whole body (eg. Physique, and legs, nose, belly, skin colour and the colour or texture of hair) plays a very important role in the image body. This also includes the sexual organs: the vagina and vulva, breasts or penis.
How is body image created?
We do not create our own body image. The people around us and our culture have a strong influence on our body image. All the time we receive positive and negative messages about our bodies of family and friends, and this starts very early in our lives. For example, we might like exercise and we feel strong and capable if our parents share with us his passion for physical activity. On the other hand, can have a negative body image if our parents criticize our appearance.
We also received messages about body image from television, magazines, films and other media. Many of the beliefs we have about the issue that “should” have women and men, come from models and celebrities we see in the media. However, the models and celebrities are unlike most people. For example, on average, the models have very different bodies. They weigh 23% less than women who are not models.
All we have to do is look around us: the bodies of the people living in the real world are different from those we see in the media.
Body image is also affected by the natural ageing process and our life experience. As our bodies change, so do our feelings. Some stages of life, such as puberty or menopause and andropause, are key moments in which a person’s body image may change. If people have been injured, become ill or have a disability, body image can also be affected.
Our emotional state also influences our body image. When work or relationships become stressful, many people find that their body image may be affected.
What is a positive body image?
People who accept their appearance and feel good about their body have a positive body image in most cases. Perhaps their appearance does not match the ideal family or the media. However, they have learned to take pride in their appearance. There is no need to be thin or tall or have some other specific physical characteristic to have a positive body image. No matter what your physical appearance is, having a positive body image means how you feel about your appearance.
Having a positive body image is also to think about how you feel physically and in your physical ability, not just think about your appearance. For example, people who can easily climb a ladder may have a better body image than people having difficulty doing so.
Having a positive body image also means that you look like it really is. Many people with a positive body image know they have the body that looks good on them, fits them. However, they accept and appreciate what they are. People with a positive body image also understand that their appearance does not determine their self-esteem.
What is a negative body image?
It creates a negative body image when someone feels that his body is not up to the ideals of family, society or the media. Many people feel that they do not meet expectations, especially when compared to the stereotypes of beauty that are commonly seen in the media.
Unlike people with a positive body image that they feel satisfied with their image, people with a negative body image often feel unsatisfied. Even they may not see themselves as they really are. People with a negative body image look in the mirror and see themselves or certain body parts bigger or smaller or somehow different from how they really are.
If you have a negative body image, maybe you feel unsafe or uncomfortable and ashamed of your own body. All we can ever feel this way about our bodies and it’s completely normal. However, if you have negative thoughts about your appearance, or how you think others see you, you might have a problem. Moreover, it could be serious. Having a negative body image can affect your health and well-being; it might be wise to consult with a professional counsellor.
How do I determine if I have a positive or negative body image?
Here are some questions for you to think about your body image:
- How do you feel when you look in the mirror?
- How do you feel when you see pictures of attractive people in magazines, on television or on the Internet?
- What do you think that other people think about your appearance?
- Ever avoiding certain activities, such as exercising or having sex because you feel uncomfortable showing your body?
- Are you critical of your appearance frequently?
- How do you respond when people usually praise your appearance?
- Can you list three favourite parts of your body?
- Do you ever feel jealous of other people by the look you have?
How cans a negative body image affect health and well being?
Having a negative body image for too long can affect your mental health and your physical health. People who have a negative body image for a long time are more likely to:
- Have anxiety, depression, low self esteem, embarrassment and difficulty concentrating
- Taking risks with their sexual health
- Socially isolated
- Not participating in healthy activities that require show your body, such as exercise, have sex, go to the doctor or swimming
- Have serious mental health problems, such as anorexia, bulimia, excessive exercise or overeating. These disorders can be very serious.
Body image and sexual health
Body image is an important aspect of sexual health. People who are comfortable with their bodies are more likely than others to make healthy choices in their sexual lives, and protect their health. People who are comfortable with their sexual organs are more likely to talk openly with their partner about sex. People who are ashamed of their body, including their sexual organs, may not feel safe enough and strong enough to make healthy choices in their sexual lives.
Especially for Teens
The teen and pre-teen are stages of life in which the bodies and body image of young change quickly. It is also a stage in which many people, especially teenagers, have problems with negative body image.
What I can do to improve my body image?
There are many things you can do to improve your body image, even without changing your body. Remember that body image is not about how you look, but how you feel about your appearance.
Some people want to change the way of how they feel about their bodies. Many times, it may be good to talk to someone you trust, like a friend or family member about how you feel. It may also help if you consult a professional therapist. Talking about negative feelings you have and find new ways of thinking about your body and your self-esteem is a good way to change a negative body image.
Think of your body differently. Pay attention to the times when you feel bad about your body. Have you weighed recently? Have you read a magazine recently? Have you talked with a friend or family member who has a negative opinion about your body? if haven’t bought a weighing scale, I would recommend buying Best BMI weighing Scale for a full body checkup
Suggestions to achieve a positive body image
In a world that constantly shows narrow definitions of beauty, how can you maintain a healthy body image? Here are some suggestions:
- Remember that health and appearance are two different things.
- Accepts and values your genes. Probably inherited a lot of traits from your family, so value them as much as you value your family.
- Bring a list of all your qualities that are related to your appearance.
- It is better to be surrounded by caring people that make you feel good about yourself.
- Treat your body in a positive manner.
You can decide to change appearance, in many ways and for many reasons. If you want to change your appearance, make sure you have realistic expectations. If you have a negative body image, it is important to treat the emotional and mental aspects of that image so that the physical changes are really positive.
Some people decide to make changes in your lifestyle, for example, follow a specific diet and adhere to a fitness program to lose weight, increase muscle mass or change your body in other ways. This often can be a healthy choice. If you are planning to make a major change in your lifestyle can be a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider for advice on the healthiest way to do it.
People also change their appearance in other ways, examples may be dyed or hair treatments or products used to change the appearance of the skin. Some changes may raise self-esteem and improve body image, and other changes may not be as effective. The key is to have realistic expectations regarding the changes in appearance if indeed that will change the way you feel about yourself.
There are people who get plastic surgery to change body parts with which they are unhappy. This is a way of dealing with negative body image. However, changing a body part does not necessarily change the way a person feels.
If you are planning to make a drastic change in your appearance, you should think about the possible consequences this might have for your health. It may be a good idea to discuss your plans with a trusted friend, family member or a provider of health care.
The best thing is to feel good about yourself, be happy and enjoy every day of life. Feeling good is the key to overcome any such issues.