A positive body image has a strong impact on the way a person thinks of themselves and what other people think of them. The majority of individuals who struggle with their image are teens, because they are not fully aware of who they are or who they are going to become. Most teens struggle with social acceptance, which is extremely time consuming especially for young girls whose bodies are blossoming into womanhood. This is why self-awareness is important from a young age. A positive body image can really last a lifetime.
Teens can develop a healthy concept of their body image as they mature, or it can get worse. In general, men handle their self-image better than women. They tend to measure their value by work, school, activities, and sports, so they are less preoccupied with their physical appearance. Research shows that 80-85 percent of women suffer more from a negative self-image, while only 5-15 percent of men have a negative self-image.
Most people with a body image disorder and related insecurities turn to addictions because they need something to fill the emptiness they feel. Over 24 million Americans suffer from eating disorders and twice this number is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. If you know someone who has an eating disorder, abuses alcohol or drugs, or overeats to the point of obesity, this is usually an indication that they are not happy or satisfied about the way they feel and look. Research shows that 40-60 percent of young adults as well as people of all ages suffer from serious addictions. The majority of individuals who are addicted will not know or not admit that they have a low self-image.
What is a Body Image all About?
Everyone has days where their clothes don’t fit or they feel fat, awkward, or uncomfortable. This is neither poor self-image nor body image disorder. Someone with a negative self-image compares their body to everyone else’s such as models and Hollywood actresses. They are focused on their looks only. This creates insecure emotions and causes low self-esteem.
The definition of self-image is the idea, conception, or mental image that someone has of themselves. Self-esteem is very similar, but it involves having a good amount of respect or a favorable image of oneself. A self image is how one actually perceives themselves over time until they form a lasting impression of themselves. The following points describe body image and how a personal body image relates to the public:
– The way others perceive you.
– Your perception and belief about your physical appearance.
– How you feel about your body.
The key to developing a positive body image is to recognize and respect the body you were born in. You should learn how to overpower the negative thoughts and feelings that arise. Moreover, self image has a strong impact on happiness. If you project a positive self-image, people are more likely to view you as a positive, capable person.
Unfortunately, Hollywood plays a tremendous role in the lives of vulnerable teens and young adults who have problems with their body image. The models are usually so skinny, and celebrities often have on-screen perfect bodies. The average person cannot keep up. Young people often fail to see through the façade.
Media Influence on Body Image Ideals
Positive media influence on body image is difficult to find on TV. Celebrities should not be the standard when it comes to physical appearance. The prettier they are, the more money they will make. The average person only sees what’s on the outside and has no idea what the lives of those celebrities are really like.
As a person, you will not find happiness or satisfaction until you learn how to have a positive body image. Here are some quotes related to positive body image:
– The human body is the best work of art.
– I am normal and I’m not trying to prove anything.
– I will treat my body with the utmost respect it deserves. I will move. I will love. I will grow.
– Know that you are & know that it is enough.
– To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.
– Don’t let compliments get to your head, and don’t let their criticism get to your heart.
Your self-image has to be both positive and realistic. Sometimes an occasional criticism to yourself will instigate positive change and growth. However, having a positive image that is too self-centered is arrogant; therefore, it is important to find the right balance between fostering a good self image and being realistic in your expectations of yourself.
Causes and Conclusions
You are not alone if your body image has been affected by unrealistic expectations. Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, excessive dieting, and binge eating are the result of the media’s influence on young people. 95 percent of people with an eating disorder are between 12 and 25 years.
Substance abuse of illegal substances including alcohol is indicative of a poor self image. Addictions do not affect or in any way address the misguided emotions, so feelings remain unaddressed. Statistics show that, everyday, over 8,000 male and females age 12 or older will try an illicit drug looking for an escape from their feelings. Studies show that teens who took their first drink before 14 were more likely to get trapped in alcohol abuse as adults. These same young people received no education or treatment for low self esteem and negative bad body image.
Training young people to adopt a positive self image should be introduced to schools and universities. Counselors and other experts should provide effective ways to combat the “Hollywood syndrome.”
Tips for Maintaining a Positive Body Image
Although illegal substances and eating disorders are the most obvious indicators of a bad image disorder, there are others. These tips will assist in turning a bad body image around and improving your state of mind.
– Remember that every day your body works hard for you. Celebrate the achievements: running, dancing, breathing, climbing, laughing, dreaming, etc.
– Write a list of the things you like about yourself that aren’t related to weight or what you look like.
– Beauty is a state of mind, not the state of your body. When you feel good about yourself, you look confident and start accepting your inner beauty.
– When you look at yourself in the mirror, don’t choose to focus on specific body parts. See yourself as a whole person, inside and out.
– Wear clothes that are comfortable and flatter your body. Work with your strengths, not against them.
– Become critical of social and media messages, and pay attention to images, campaigns, or attitudes that make you feel bad. Protest against these messages in your mind.
– Surround yourself with positive people who like you just the way you are.
– Silence the negative voices in your head that tell you your body is not good enough. Build yourself up with a few positive declarations that always work.
– Say to yourself, “Life is too short to waste my time hating my body.”
– Find new activities that you enjoy, constantly reminding yourself that you deserve to be happy. You deserve to have fun and enjoy your life.
Eating disorders can be fatal, with 20 percent of anorexic people dying from the disorder. The death rate from substance abuse is also high, so you can see how body image disorders affect you and everyone around you. The good news is that there is hope when the individual gets treatment and lives can change for the better. Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams. Honor it. Respect it. Fuel it.