I am confident. I am beautiful. I am strong.
Body image is the perception that a person has of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings that result from that perception. These feelings can be positive, negative or both, and are influenced by individual and environmental factors.
I remember a few years ago, I wished I were tall and slim. I was jealous of my friends and believed they were prettier than I was. Now, I have come to realise that I Deborah, I AM BEAUTIFUL. I love my height. I tell myself “I am petite, but I am strong”. I realised that there are more things to me than my height or the way I look. I look at myself in the mirror and I am proud of what I see even with what I call my flaws. I see my growth; I see my journey. They are part of what makes me and part of my story. I have become confident in what I see and I love up on myself. I realised that my identity is in the one who created/made me and not in society’s perspective or what the media portrays.
What feeling do you get when you look in the mirror and how does that make you feel? I think that is a good place to start because a lot of us tend to base our feelings about our bodies on what we see visually.
Body image is determined by 4 factors:
- How you SEE your body is your perceptual body image. This is not always a correct representation of how you look. For example, a person may perceive themselves as overweight when they are actually underweight.
- The way you FEEL about your body is your affective body image. This relates to the amount of satisfaction or dissatisfaction you feel about your shape, weight, and individual body parts.
- The way you THINK about your body is your cognitive body image. This can lead to preoccupation with body shape and weight.
- BEHAVIOURS in which you engage because of your body image, encompass your behavioural body image. When a person is dissatisfied with the way he/she looks, they may isolate themselves because they feel bad about their appearance.
One of the body image disorders is called Body Dysmorphic Disorder. It is when you constantly worry about flaws in your appearance, focus on specific areas of your body and compare yourself a lot to others.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to live a healthy lifestyle if you feel that this is having an impact on your health. However, one thing that puts me in check is asking myself – what is my motive? Why do I want to lose weight? Why do I want to be taller? What other insecurities do I have?
Sometimes when you are struggling with your body image, you might change your eating habits as this can make you feel like you are more in control of how you look. This can be things like changing what you eat; how much and how often you are eating. If you find that your eating habits or relationship with food is taking over your life, you might be struggling with an eating problem.
Remember, people, value you for many reasons.
- Think about what advice you would give a friend if they told you they were struggling with the way they look and remember that advice whenever you start having negative thoughts.
- Talk to someone you trust. It could be your parents or wider family members, like older cousins, aunts, or uncles. Outside your home, it could be a teacher, a neighbour, a close family friend or someone from a club you attend.
- Be kind to yourself and try not to compare yourself to the many images you see online and in magazines, which are often digitally changed to make them look ‘perfect’ – they do not reflect how people look in real life.
- Check if your social media is affecting the way you feel about your body. There can be lots of pressure online to have the “perfect” body.
- Focus on the things you like about yourself, and the parts of your body that you like.
- Spend time with people who make you feel positive about yourself. It might help if you write down the nice things people say to you, and not just about how you look.
by Debbie @behealthywithdebs