Body Image

October 22, 2014

812863_90858969What is body image?

Do you think you’re too fat? Have you ever tried to lose weight? When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? As the body experiences dramatic changes in height, weight, and shape during the teenage years, our image of ourselves also changes in the process. Body image is our personal view of our body and, more importantly, our belief about how others perceive our appearance. Body image can be closely linked to self-esteem, especially as teens grow into adolescence and become more concerned about how others see them.

 

How does negative body image relate to self-dissatisfaction?

Body image is often measured by asking people to rate their current and ideal body shape using a series of pictures. The difference between these two values reflects the amount of body dissatisfaction. Studies have shown that the majority of people are dissatisfied with their appearance, especially their weight. Teenage girls, in particular, see themselves as heavier than what they would like to be. The dissatisfaction with weight is not limited to overweight girls. Normal weight and even underweight girls also express a desire to become thinner. The desire to lose weight is highly correlated with poor and distorted body image.

 

How does the media influence body image?

Besides the actual state of our bodies, body image is influenced by our culture and ideas presented by the media. Media images have a strong effect on a person’s body image, particularly for teenage girls.  Teenagers become increasingly aware of what the media’s standards are for the “ideal body.” The popular media (television, movies, magazines) has increasingly portrayed a thinner and thinner image as the ideal for women. Such presentations can be unrealistic.  On the average, the ideal woman shown in the media weighs 23% less than the average woman. Constantly seeing such “Barbie-like” doll images that are so far from one’s own reality creates a sense of pressure for teenage girls to lose weight.

 

Is your body image positive or negative?

 Negative Body Image:

  • You perceive parts of your body unlike what they really are
  • You feel self-conscious and ashamed
  • You believe your body is a sign of personal failure and that you are not as attractive as everyone else

Positive Body Image:

  • You have a real and clear perception of your body parts
  • You appreciate your body for the way it is, and feel comfortable and confident
  • You understand that body size and shape do not reflect your personal character and values

How to build a positive body image

  • Stop comparing yourself with models or movie stars
  • Don’t focus on body areas that you don’t like
  • Don’t focus on aspects that you have little control over: height, for example.
  • Set realistic goals and use healthy methods to lose weight
  • Understand that healthy skin and hair come from healthy eating
  • Focus on the quality of life
  • Create friendships that reflect the real you
  • Participate in extracurricular activities. Allocate time and energy to more important projects.