By: Sarah Thorn
Did you know that according to a study, 86% of women are dissatisfied with their bodies in some way (Hirschmann & Munter, 1995)? Body-image issues plague girls and women of all ages. Having a negative body-image causes low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. In this post, we will discuss what body-image issues look like, where it stems from, and how to help change our deeply held negative beliefs about our bodies.
What is Body-Image?
According to psychologist Amy Launder, there are four parts of body image:
- The way you visually perceive your body
- The way you feel about how you look
- The thoughts and beliefs you hold about your body
- And the things you do related to the way you look (diets, photoshop, tanning, etc.)
What Does Negative Body-Image Look Like?
If you believe that your worth, happiness, and success is based on whether you look “good”, you are likely struggling with body-image issues. Often, women hold the belief that if they lose the weight, or get the nose job, or get the hair-extensions, they will finally be happy – only to discover they are just as unfulfilled as they were before. When we are seeking intrinsic happiness and fulfillment in extrinsic things (such as how we look), we will never find it. Many eating disorders are formed by striving to feel valued and worthy by looking a certain way and going to extremes to try to achieve their goals.
Where Do Body-Image Issues Come From?
We are constantly bombarded with ads, images, and videos that are all centered on outer appearance. What clothes to buy, what serums to use on our skin, what hair products famous models are using, and on and on and on… Not only that, but we have filters, photoshop, plastic surgery, makeup contouring, and so on. Why wouldn’t a woman struggle with the way they look when they are constantly being told what to do to look better?
How Can I Change My Body-Image from Negative to Positive?
It is difficult to ignore all the societal messages we receive every day, that essentially tell us through their advertising that we are not good enough. However, it is possible to relearn what self-worth means, and to change our negative core beliefs about ourselves to positive. Listed below are eight things we can do to re-create our body-image beliefs:
- Appreciate all that your body can do
- Keep a top-ten list of all the things you like about yourself
- Remind yourself that “true beauty” is NOT skin-deep.
- Become a critical viewer of social media and media messages
- Remember that your body is NOT an object, but an instrument
- Remember that your body is good, regardless of how it looks
- Wear clothes that are comfortable, and help you feel confident
- Surround yourself with positive people
It is all too common to base our worth on our outer appearance, but luckily, we have the power to change what we believe. Every second of every day is a new opportunity to start shifting our mindset from external validation to internal. Practice self-compassion and give yourself patience as you embark on changing your views about your physical appearance. You are so much more than a body!