A huge factor to a healthy well-being and attitude toward life is body image. It may be what we first see in the mirror, but it doesn’t start there. Positive and negative body image begins in the mind and can be more than just what you like or dislike about yourself.
Body image can affect you emotionally, mentally, and physically. The images seen on social media can have a detrimental effect on the mind because they promote the idea of a “perfect” body. The first step to achieving a healthy and well-rounded body image is to realize that the “perfect” body does not exist.
According to Women’s Health, having a positive body image equates to being mentally and physically healthy. Likewise, someone with a negative body image is more likely to develop an unhealthy mental or physical quality.
A healthy body image is created through confidence, high self-esteem, and a healthy body and mind. A negative body image can be created and hid- den behind a simple “dislike” of physical features.
Depression, eating disorders, and extremely low self-esteem can be the result of a negative body image. Causes of these results can vary between being bullied, believing in the concept of the “perfect” body as portrayed on social media, being told you are too thin or fat, and either yourself or others pointing out features you or they find displeasing.
What’s worse, if you suffer enough from the effects of a negative body image, you can develop a serious mental condition called dysmorphic disorder, according to Women’s Health. You can have such a distorted opinion of your body that you become completely obsessed with minor or even imaginary physical flaws.
Positive or negative body image creates a cycle of how you feel mentally and physically, according to Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division.
When you have a positive body image, you not only feel comfortable in your own skin, but understand that looks and appearances do not determine worth to others or yourself. You respect yourself and have realistic expectations for yourself and others that do not have to be determined by body image.
When you have a negative body image, you compare yourself to others, pointing out features that you wish you had. Or worse, you reflect your feelings onto others’ body images and point out what you believe is wrong with them. You become easily overwhelmed when life becomes hard, and instead of working toward a solution, you convince yourself it never works out in the long run anyway.
To promote a healthier body image, take these steps the Canadian Mental Health Association suggests:
• Surround yourself with positive friends and family who can also help you out if you find yourself in a rut.
• Respect your body and understand that it has needs. This includes keeping up with personal hygiene, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly.
• Recognize and challenge the stereotypes you see of the “perfect” body on social media.
• Remember that everyone feels self-conscious about something. You are not alone. What may seem like a small issue to you may seem huge to them and vice versa.
Although maintaining a healthy body image full- time is hard to do, it shouldn’t keep you from striving to believe the best about yourself. Everyone can feel a little down now and then and compare themselves to others, but remembering the tips above can help overcome those feelings. If you are someone who feels great about their body, try to help friends and family who are struggling. If you can have a positive body image, they can as well. Sometimes all it takes is someone to be there and understand. You’ve heard the saying “Your body is a temple,” so treat it that way! Eat- ing healthy, practicing good personal hygiene, exercising regularly, and surrounding yourself with positive people should help you on your way to a positive body image.
Tips to Promote Positive Body Image
1. Keep a list of all the thing you like about your- self. It doesn’t have to be something physical, but read the list often and try to add to it over time.
2. Look at the big picture. Instead of picking out certain parts of your appearance you dislike, look at yourself as a whole person. Picture yourself how you want others to look at you, just like how you look at them as a whole person.
3. Treat yourself. Do something that makes you happy, whether it’s mental or physical. Read a good book or have a mini spa day at home.
4. Instead of using energy to tear yourself down, use that energy to build someone else up. You can help someone else who’s struggling and at the same time feel good about yourself.
5. Shut down the inner voices that promote dislike of your features. If someone around you makes you feel bad as well, think about limiting time with them.
Written by: Alex Dunn