Body image is something we all have. Our body image is made up of the way we view ourselves, the way we feel about our bodies and what we believe others see when looking at us.
Some people have a positive body image, meaning they are comfortable with their weight, shape and size – their appearance. This kind of self-acceptance is considered a ‘healthy body image’ or ‘body confident’. Like everybody else, body confident people still suffer with insecurities from time to time, but for the most part are comfortable with themselves and are able to control or rationalize any negative thoughts or comments related to their appearance.
Unfortunately, there are a large percentage of people who aren’t ‘body confident’ and have a ‘negative body image’. This means that they are not happy with their appearance in terms of shape, weight or size most or all of the time. This is considered an ‘unhealthy body image’. Someone with a negative or distorted perspective of their own body, might lead to an increased likelihood of developing other related mental health problems such as depression or eating disorders.
Whilst the use of social media isn’t necessarily the root cause of someone having a negative view of themselves, it is generally considered to be a contributing factor. The media has always portrayed men and women with unrealistic physiques (increasingly digitally altered ideals) as “perfect,” making people question and compare their own body. When people do this and feel their body isn’t “perfect” like the one in the image, it can make them feel extremely anxious, self-conscious and ugly in their own skin.
The pressure to look a certain way online can affect people’s day-to-day lives – even making people too embarrassed or scared to share their own images or photos on social media without editing or ‘photoshopping’ them.
On the positive side, the internet can be a great tool for building self-confidence and self-esteem for people struggling with body image problems – helping them to achieve a more positive, ‘healthy’ view of their appearance. Forums and ‘Body Positive’ communities all provide valuable access to people who are going through or have been through similar problems.
We know how debilitating body image problems can be. We’ve put together some tips below that might help you start to feel a little bit more comfortable with yourself. Remember that body image disorders can need professional medical attention so if the problem persist or gets worse, contact a medical professional.
There are many useful organizations who can help you with your body image problems. Some organizations offer helplines to provide support for longterm problems and short-term crisis support.