Body image is the way we perceive our self and how we think others perceive us. Right from childhood different labels like, chubby, plum, thin, bony, dark, short, tall, tomboy etc are attached to us and all are life either we are struggling to maintain these labels (if we like them) or get on the rollercoaster ride to get rid of them.
Leena in her forties, is a mother of two and ever since her last pregnancy is trying hard to reduce weight. She has tried Pilates, yoga, Cross Fit, running and weightlifting. They have made her stronger, she has lost weight but the fat belly seems to be the tough one. This is disappointing her and shattering her confidence. I wear loose clothes just to avoid people asking me whether I am pregnant again.
She says” I wish I could say looks don’t matter, but we all know to a certain degree they do. And isn’t it true that women are constantly being judged about how they look?” Sounds familiar to many…
Body images means
*How you feel about your body, including your height, shape, and weight.
*What you believe about your own appearance
*How you sense and control your body as you move.
*How you feel in your body, not just about your body.
Negative or Distorted Body Image
*The perception of your body shape is distorted.
*You see parts of your body unlike they really are.
*You are convinced that only other people are good looking and that your body size or shape is a sign of carelessness and personal failure.
*You feel uncomfortable and awkward in your body.
*You feel ashamed, self-conscious, and anxious about your body.
Body Image and Eating Disorders
Body image concerns and eating disorders go hand in hand. Often, it is the early dissatisfaction with a young person’s appearance that leads them to conclude that losing weight would enhance their appearance, and make them feel better about themselves and their bodies.
Thus, restrictive eating and over exercising are often next, frequently leading to patterns of disordered eating and weight obsession that can develop into anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating or binge eating disorder.
We all may have our days when we feel awkward or uncomfortable in our bodies, but to let that feeling take charge of us and make it a constant companion can be very harmful to our self esteem. Here are few suggestions to keep such negative body images away and cultivate a positive one.
*Look at yourself as a whole person. When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts. See yourself as you want others to see you–as a whole person.
*Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body. Work with your body, not against it.
*Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like. Read your list often
*Surround yourself with positive people. It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
Seek help if you are finding it difficult to get your mind off from body obsession and shaming.