Body image is never an easy topic to discuss, nor is it simple. Throughout history, the image of the body has been interpreted in thousands of ways, proving that there is not one type of body that is more correct over another. The body is influenced by environment, health, genetics, build and countless other factors that we do not have complete control over. However, the body, particularly its appearance, has become the source of negativity that can lead to mental health conditions.
In a nutshell, body image is how you think and what you feel when you look in the mirror, picture yourself in your mind or look at photos of yourself. Your height, weight, and proportions are all contributing factors to how some people view themselves. Society plays a major role in promoting “the perfect body” and ways in which people can achieve this “goal.”
Each body is different and responds to exercise and diets differently thus not always producing the same results as another person or in the same amount of time. This does not mean that one is better than the other, only that every body is unique.
Unfortunately, not obtaining the body type that is labeled as preferred can result in harmful effects on the mind. A negative body image can be formed by the following reasons:
- Being teased or bullied as a child for how you looked
- Images or message in the media and social media that make you feel bad for your appearance
- Being underweight or overweight
- Messages or ads saying that one body type is better than another
- Having aspects of your body criticized/the use of the word “too” (too skinny or too overweight)
In some cases, a negative body image over time can result in depression, eating disorders or other mental health conditions that can worsen. Constantly thinking about your weight, height or other features, developing harmful habits to try and change your body and an overwhelming feeling of being uncomfortable in your body are the effects of negative body image. It’s important to not let these thoughts or habits progress as they could harm your health.
Understanding the perception you have of your body is vital in moving forward. If you have negative or unhealthy thoughts about your body, talking with a doctor, therapist or someone you trust is a great step to finding out how to see your body in a positive light and appreciate all that it does. Being vocal about your feelings can be unsettling, but for the sake of your mental and physical health, it’s important.
The ideal body image is the one in which you feel happy in your skin.