What is body image?
Body image refers to a complex experience of how individuals see their own body in terms of perception, emotional attitudes, and beliefs. It isn’t just about focusing on what we see in the mirror when we check our skin, hair, or body shape and size. It stems from a range of experiences: societal beliefs, social media and popular standards. People can either have satisfied (positive) or dissatisfied (negative) body image. And this may positively or negatively affect work, social and emotional aspects of their life.
In contrast to many individual’s opinions that issues with body image are a largely female thing. It’s been proven that both genders experience a relative degree of negative body image.
Aspects of body image
- The logical aspect: this involves a person’s thoughts about their body.
Certain people think they will feel better about themselves if they are thinner. While others think that they need more muscle to feel great about themselves. It is also known as cognitive body image.
- The perceptual aspect: in this case, a person perceives their body to be a wrong representation of what they are.
For instance, an underweight lady may perceive herself to be fat.
- The behavioral aspect refers to a person’s actions in relation to their body image.
Some people may take on destructive habits because they are dissatisfied with how they see their body such as binging or doing overbearing exercises. Others may become antisocial and isolate themselves.
- The Affective aspect: this refers to a person’s feeling about their body shape, size, height or weight which they may be satisfied or dissatisfied with.
There are things a person may be happy or unhappy about the way they look.
There are two types of body imaging which are:
Positive body image
Positive body image means being satisfied with the entirety of one’s body. A person is said to have a body positivity when they accept and appreciate their whole body and how it looks. Such individual understands that their self-worth is not dependent on their appearance. This is irrespective of what the society and media portray. They have extensive knowledge of what beauty is and are always positive about their body. They are confident and also in control of their health goals whether they have a large or thin body frame.
- People with a positive body image will generally have a higher level of physical and psychological health. And consequently a better personal development.
- The higher your self-esteem, the easier you will find it to stay on top of daily life and the more sociable you will be. This will subsequently lead to higher levels of happiness and wellbeing.
- Self-acceptance: the more positive a person’s body image, the more likely that person is to feel comfortable and happy with the way they look. A person with a positive body image is less likely to feel impacted by unrealistic images in the media and societal pressures to look a certain way.
- Healthy outlook and behaviors
When you are in tune with, and respond to the needs of your body, your physical and psychological wellbeing improves. A positive body image will lead to a balanced lifestyle with healthier attitudes and practices with food and exercise.
Negative body image
A person means being dissatisfied about some parts or the whole of the body and their appearance. A person is said to have a negative body image when they refuse to accept and appreciate some parts or the whole of their body and how it looks. Such individuals don’t understand their self-worth because they compare themselves with what society and media portray. They have little or no knowledge of what beauty is and are always negative about their body. They exude low self-esteem, feel ashamed, and may not be in control of their health goals. This may often lead to the development of mental health issues, such as depression.
Factors that may contribute to developing negative body image may include age, gender, personality traits, appearance teasing, body size, and sexual orientation
How can you improve your body positivity?
It’s worth knowing that we may not be able to change features of physical appearance, we ought to accept that there is no constant right or wrong about body image. For people with negative body image, this might be unbelievable for them.
However, there are steps to improving on our body image as this is an achievable goal:
- Challenge beauty ideals by learning to embrace your body shape. This is an important step towards developing a positive body appearance.
- Focus and build on your positive qualities and skills. This helps you to embrace and appreciate yourself as a whole.
- Be kind to yourself by saying positive things to yourself every day. As time goes on, you start to believe what you say to yourself every day.
- Avoid being around negative people or people who talk you down.
- Set health goals for healthy living rather than for weight loss
- Never compare yourself to others. Everyone is unique and special in their own way.