Who or what shaped your body image…… the people around you (family and friends) and your culture (neighborhood, church, school, social hangouts), all starting from when you were very young. Include in there the messages about body image from television, magazines, films, and other media and you could really conjure up subjective pictures about yourself that are not you at all. Look around — the bodies in the real world are much more diverse and unique, as they should be, than those we see in the media. And other things such as puberty, menopause, sickness, disabled and even stress can influence body image.
Positive Body Image:
- Accepting the way you look and feeling good about your body most of the time.
- Having good physical fitness, for example, if you can easily climb stairs then you may have a better body image than someone who struggle climbing them.
- Seeing yourself as you really are, that is, knowing that certain parts of your body may not be the same as someone else’s, but still accept, appreciate and even love the differences.
- Understanding that how you look does not determine your self-worth.
Negative Body Image:
- Measuring yourself against the standards of beauty commonly seen in the media, or even to family and friends and feeling as though you don’t measure up.
- Looking in the mirror and seeing yourself different than you really are….larger or smaller, but never satisfied.
- Having feelings of shame, awkwardness, self-consciousness or feeling jealous most of the time.
If you have experienced any of the negative feelings listed above over a long period of time, then you’re more likely than someone with a positive body image to have anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, shame, and trouble concentrating. If you are cutting out healthy activities which show your body, such as exercising, having sex, going to the doctor, or swimming, then you allowing your feelings regarding your body image to control you. And these false beliefs could lead to some very serious problems, such as anorexia, bulimia, over-exercising or overeating and should be looked into by a physician or a professional counselor.
Now, when you turn your attention to eating a healthy diet, staying physically active, establishing and keeping a healthy social circle, reading books or watching movies about inspiring women, you will then begin to notice your perception of your body image becoming your own unique self and thus setting a good example for others.