What is Body Image?
Body image is how a person thinks and feels about their body.
There are 4 aspects to body image:
1. The way we see our own body when we look in the mirror
2. The way we feel about our body
3. The way we act in relation to our body
4. The thoughts we feel when thinking about our body
Perceived Self vs. True Self
We don’t always have accurate perceptions about body image. When what someone sees in the mirror is different to how they actually are, they can experience negative body image. They may be thinking they look fat, when in reality they could be underweight. This is often what occurs with eating disorders such as Anorexia.
What Causes Negative Body Image?
There are a number of factors that can make people more prone to the development of poor body image. These may include:
- Age – Body image typically develops during late childhood and adolescence, however it can affect people of all ages.
- Gender – Adolescent girls are more prone, although the rates of male body dissatisfaction are rising.
- Personality Traits – People who are perfectionists, high achievers, and those who often compare themselves to others.
- Teasing – Being teased about weight or appearance, regardless of body type
- Friends or family who diet – Role models who display body dissatisfaction, or model weight loss behaviours can play a large role
- Body size – In weight-conscious societies, larger bodies are more likely to cause body dissatisfaction
How To Develop a Positive Body Image
To develop a positive body image, we need to accept, appreciate and respect our bodies. Some of the ways you can work towards better body image are:
- Think about all the wonderful things your body has enabled you to do
- Appreciate the beauty in others around you; however be mindful not to compare yourself to them
- Avoid talking or thinking negatively about yourself, and others
- Set realistic goals, centred on health rather than a specific weight or body shape
- Keep in mind that many images in the media are unrealistic, and representative of the minority.
If you are having problems with body dissatisfaction, or are developing unhealthy eating or exercise habits, it may be helpful to seek professional help. If you need help or have any questions, Vision Counselling and Psychology can be contacted on 1300 184 746 or email; [email protected]
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases and is an advisor to Reed Medical Conferences.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA.