Your body image is how you see yourself and how you feel about your physical appearance, size and weight. It’s not a concrete feeling but it affects how you feel as a person, your value and how you feel inside your own skin. It changes with your personal mood, the environment and other circumstance. It is by and large a learned response, which is taught by parents, friends, and others in the society. The development of our body image is mostly affected during puberty. How you see yourself can mean the difference between a healthy and happy lifestyle and one filled with self-destructive behaviors.
Someone with a poor or negative body image often finds him or herself physically unattractive. He or she feels that others are likely disgusted by him or her. Through ultra thin women and perfectly muscular men affects today’s media the individual’s body shape. These so-called ideals are often impossible to achieve for the average person, without resorting to extreme and often unhealthy.
This negative reflection of one’s own body can cause a great deal of harm, both physically and emotionally. A negative body image usually causes a person to often make unwise and unhealthy lifestyle choices, which never really solve the perceived problem. A decreased self-esteem can result, which can lead to:
- Withdrawal from society
- Dangerous dieting
A negative body image can also lead to a mental disorder known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), where a person is convinced that they are deformed or disfigured when in fact they look completely fine. Those suffering from BDD often feel that they are too repulsive for others to see them, and they fear rejection, ridicule, and embarrassment. Therefore, they often withdraw from society altogether.
Having a positive body image is about acceptance of one’s physical appearance – both features and size. Someone with a good body image sees himself or herself as being normal or attractive, as well being normal or attractive by others. A person with a positive body image might not be considered attractive by everyone, just as someone with a negative body image will likely be considered attractive by others. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
Because of the attitudes toward body shape and size that have evolved in the last decades, it is important that the encouragement of a positive body image and acceptance be taught early on. Rather than focusing on an unreasonable picture of physical perfection, children and young adults need to be encouraged to look within themselves, and accept who they are.
Everyone should be different, and look different, or life would be extremely boring. If you or someone in your family or friends need help, ask your doctor for specialists and support groups