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Body Image

Understanding Body Image

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.

Negative body image

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.

Social media and body image

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.

Positive effects of social media on body image

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.

Tips for a positive body image

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.

  • Remember – Be mindful that everybody has insecurities. Even if someone appears ‘perfect’ on social media, they most likely have their own insecurities that they struggle with – and possibly even edited the images to look the way they do.
  • Self-validation – Try not to rely on others for a confidence boost or validation, try to love yourself and all your quirky bits – your differences are your strengths! True confidence comes from self-acceptance. Once you feel good from within, it will radiate from you on the outside. If you don’t rely on validation or acceptance from anybody else, you can’t be let down, right?
  • Digi-detox – Try not to become too preoccupied with social media, especially when you’re feeling low. The last thing you need to be looking at is all those ‘fabulous looking’ (photoshopped) lives on Instagram that are curated to look great and are not representative of real life whatsoever! Instead, read a good book or do something that makes you happy.
  • Respect yourself – Take care of yourself by trying to eat healthily, exercising regularly and setting achievable goals to make yourself feel better physically and emotionally. Make sure the goals are achievable, even getting dressed can be a milestone.
  • Recognize – Appreciate your own beauty by creating a list of all the things that you love about yourself (on a good day!). When you’re feeling down, you can go back and read how awesome you truly are!

Helpful organizations for body image related problems

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.