How to develop a positive BODY IMAGE?
Body image is the perception of a person about his/her physical body (or sexual attractiveness) and the thoughts and feelings that arise due to that perception. These feelings can be positive, negative or both. Naturally, it has a lasting effect on mental and physical well-being as well as overall personality. It can even impact an individual’s social and professional life.
In layman’s language, the feeling one has when standing in front of a mirror is basically their body image. It is affected by the individual’s own personality as well as societal factors. Clinically, body image is explained as below:
- How one SEES one’s physical looks is PERCEPTUAL BODY IMAGE. It may not always be correct.
- How one FEELS about his/her body is AFFECTIVE BODY IMAGE ie. the amount of satisfaction/ dissatisfaction about one’s physical looks like height, weight, complexion, etc.
- How one THINKS about his/her body is a COGNITIVE BODY IMAGE. This can lead to over engrossment in one’s body shape and weight.
- The behavior as a result of one’s perception about his/ her body is called BEHAVIOURAL BODY IMAGE. The person may isolate himself/ herself from society if he/ she feels bad about his/ her body.
Negative Body Image
Negative body image means having a disoriented perception of one’s physical appearance, which results in excessive self-consciousness or shyness.
People with low self-esteem, low self-confidence or those on either side of the ideal body index are at a higher risk of having a negative body image.
Causes of negative body image
- Sometimes, “Body Dysmorphic Disorder” can lead to a negative body image. It is a mental illness in which a person obsessively feels that some part of his/ her body is severely flawed and needs to be corrected.
- Societal norms about an “Ideal body” force a person to think too much about their physical appearance which can lead to a negative body image.
- Social media is also responsible for increasing the number of cases of poor body image among girls these days.
- Super skinny models and “size zero” concept has led to starvation and eating disorders in many.
- Not only weight and shape, but advertisements about fairness creams have also compelled girls to feel bad about their complexion.
- Fashion and cosmetics industry can be called as a culprit of creating a nearly impossible “ideal body shape”, which leads to constant dissatisfaction among people about their own body.
- Body shaming is done by the so-called “fashion police”.
Effects of a negative body image
- Chronic negativity about one’s body image can lead to various psychological issues like eating disorders, anxiety, isolation, and starvation.
- It can make individuals feel insecure and engross them in a dark loop of correcting the “defects” they have in their body. For eg. getting a nose job done repeatedly even when there is no problem with the original one.
- The individuals can isolate themselves from society completely or feel very embarrassed and shy while coming in front of anyone.
- The individuals can go to extremes while choosing their ways of correcting that “glitch” in their bodies.
- It can result in obesity or malnutrition.
- It can lead to depression and extremely low self-confidence.
- In the case of adolescents and children, it can lead to repeated absence from school and social gatherings.
Positive Body Image
Positive body image refers to having a clear and true perception of one’s body. In addition to celebrating and appreciating the body’s attributes, it also requires an understanding that an individual’s appearance does not reflect his/ her character or self-worth.
People with good self-esteem often have a positive and confident attitude about their body and mind and can recognize their strengths as well as personal value and worth.
How to develop a Positive Body Image?
- Stay healthy: Your shape, size, and weight wouldn’t matter if you are internally healthy and physically fit.
- Eat healthily: Don’t stop eating for the sake of losing weight rather make healthier eating choices. Though you can always indulge yourself once in a while. You can take the help of a professional nutritionist instead of dieting yourself.
- Be a good person: And everyone will love you for what you are than how you look.
- Never stop dressing: Always remember, you will look beautiful by how you carry yourself, and not how you look. Dress up according to your choice, not by what others would think.
- Respect your body: If you respect your physical self, others will also respect you.
- Concentrate on improving your skills than looks: Looks take a backstage if your talent and skills are more visible to others.
- Learn meditation and breathing exercises: This will help you calm yourself down whenever you get negative thoughts about your body.
Tips for parents
In order to avoid the development of a negative body image in children and adolescents, parents should:
- develop a habit of healthy eating among children since a young age
- keep a positive and healthy environment about physical appearance and bring the focus on being fit
- inculcate the habit of exercising regularly
- never criticize anyone about their body or clothing in front of young children
- never indulge in body shaming
- always promote skills and talent development
- always work towards boosting the self-confidence of their children
- develop a value system based on good moral values
Consult a psychologist if you see any signs of Body Dysmorphic Disorder or Eating Disorder in yourself or any of your close friends or family.
Love Your Body – Because Everybody Is Unique and Different!!