Body image can be negatively impacted by multiple events and factors, and problems can range from mild dissatisfaction to severe body hatred. The media has grown to be one of the most influential components in our society, especially for teens and young adults, portraying an unattainable “ideal”. Dissatisfaction due to not exemplifying this “perfect image” often leads to weight loss attempts, disordered eating habits, full-blown eating disorders, and other mental illnesses such as depression.
An individual struggling with negative body image may show signs of chronic comparison with others, whether that is friends, peers, strangers, models, or celebrities. Accepting compliments is difficult, and they often question the motives of others. It’s difficult for the individual to be present, because body image concerns consume their thoughts. Getting treatment for distorted body image is a critical step in recovery.
Acknowledging feelings can help you to become more comfortable in your body and lessen the tendency to revert to unhealthy behaviors. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one approach that works to reframe irrational thoughts into more positive, realistic ones. Other therapies such as dance, movement, or art are also useful in developing an appreciation for the body beyond aesthetics. Recognizing and embracing the differences between people is also important, so it may be useful to break yourself from activities of competition or comparison. This could mean discontinuing magazine subscriptions, no longer watching certain TV shows, and/or unfollowing social media accounts that promote diet culture. Look for others that promote acceptance and body positivity, and remember that we’re complex individuals worth so much more than the way we look.