Impact of Body Image on Mental Health #CauseAChatter

Body dissatisfaction is the experience of negative thoughts and feelings about one’s body and appearance , is a powerful and consistent precursor of a whole range of unhealthy body-related behaviors. These includes : unhealthy dieting regimes and problematic eating behaviors (starving, bingeing and purging), clinical eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia), cosmetic surgery, extreme exercising and unhealthy muscle-enhancing behaviors in men and boys (such as taking steroids or other supplements ). It is also linked to depression, anxiety, sexual dissatisfaction and low self-esteem. Therefore body dissatisfaction is a significant risk for physical health, mental health, and thus well-being. Any factor, such as idealized media image, that increases body dissatisfaction is therefore an important influence on well-being.

  • I am fat
  • I am too skinny
  • I would be happy if I was taller
  • I would be happy if I was shorter
  • I would be happy if I had curly hair
  • I would be happy if I had straight hair
  • I would be happy if I was fairer
  • I would be happy if I was………A never ending list of complaints about how I look.

Do any of these statements sound familiar? Are you used to putting yourself down? If so you are not alone. However these are not thoughts which crept overnight. It has been there sub consciously and this all started slowly when you were a kid probably at a age of 2 years plus, when others have commented about you. Lots of people have trouble adjusting and this can affect their self esteem. If I say body image and self esteem are inter related, I am sure many of you will agree with me. Self-esteem is all about how much people value themselves, the pride they feel in themselves, and how worthwhile they feel. Self-esteem is important because feeling good about yourself can affect how you act. For example a person who has high self esteem will make friends easily, is more in control of his or her behavior, and will enjoy life more. As far as Body-image is concerned it is how someone feels about his or her own physical appearance. Therefore, for most people, body image can be closely linked to self-esteem. That’s because as kids develop into teens and further adults, they care more about how others see them.

There are people who look into the mirror constantly. Forget about them, if I just ask why we look in the mirror? We are all more obsessed with our appearance than we like to admit. But this is not an indication of vanity. Concern about appearance is quite normal and understandable. But drawing a line is important before it becomes an obsession.

The bias for beauty operates in almost all social situations. Most of the experiments show we react more favorably to physically attractive people. We also believe in the “what is beautiful is good” stereotype- an irrational but deep-seated belief that physically attractive people possess other desirable characteristics such as intelligence. competence, social skills, confidence, even moral virtue. (The good fairy/princess is always beautiful; the wicked stepmother is always ugly)

It is not surprising that physical attractiveness is of overwhelming importance to us. Concern with appearance is not just an aberration of modern western culture. Every period of history has had its own standards of what is and is not beautiful, and every contemporary society has its own distinctive concept of the ideal physical attributes. Advances in technology and in particular the rise of the social media have caused normal concern about how we look to become an obsessions. Thanks to media, we have becomes accustomed to extremely rigid and uniform standards of beauty.

According to my observation ,people see and react to their reflection in a mirror varies according to their age, mood, gender, eating disorder, what they been watching on TV, what magazines they read, their marital status and also what kind of childhood they had.

All research to date on body image shows that women are more critical of their appearance than men. Up to 8 out of 10 women will be dissatisfied with their reflection, and more than half may see a distorted image. On the other hand men looking in the mirror are more likely to be either pleased with what they see or indifferent. Research shows that men generally have much more positive image than women, if anything, they may tend to over-estimate their attractiveness. Some men looking in the mirror may literally not see the flaws in their appearance.

But why are women so much more critical than man?

  • Because women are judged on their appearance more than men, and standards of female beauty are considerably higher and more inflexible. Constant exposure to idealized images of female beauty on TV and magazines makes exceptional good looks seems normal and anything short of perfection seem abnormal and ugly.
  • Also, most women are trying to achieve the impossible: standards of female beauty have in fact become progressively more unrealistic during 21st century.

Female dissatisfaction with appearance begins at a very early age. and puberty only makes things worse. Boys were found to be significantly less critical, but they too do go through a short phase of relative dissatisfaction in early adolescence, but the physical changes associated with puberty soon bring them closer to the masculine ideal. There is also a possibility that if a child is teased about flaws in their appearance, their body image may have become permanently disturbed.

Most of us are aware of our society’s emphasis on the importance of appearance, and we know what the socially sanctioned standards of beauty are. But not all of us accept or internalize these standards. Strong minded individuals who reject current standards are more likely to have a positive body image. If you have a positive body image, you probably like and accept yourself the way you are. This healthy attitude allows you to explore other aspects of growing up, such as developing good friendships, growing more independent from your parents and challenging yourself physically and mentally. Developing these parts of yourself can help boost your self esteem.

7 Steps To Enhance Body-Image

Body images are not fixed. Our body experiences changes as we grow older, and each stage in our life is associated with body image maker. Building a positive body image is a lifelong process. Changing body image means more than changing our body, it means changing how we think, feel and react to our body. There are many a way to remodel the outside, however, it also requires extensive inside changes in body-image. Some steps to enhance body-image are:

  • Explore your personal body-image with its strengths and limitations
  • Confront thinking distortions related to your body
  • Challenge misleading assumptions about body appearance
  • Accept and love who you are
  • Be comfortable with your body
  • Have positive experience with your body
  • Be a friend to your body with positive affirmations

This Post is part of Blogchatter’s # CauseAChatter

Pic courtesy / Edit : pexel / canva

34 Replies to “Impact of Body Image on Mental Health #CauseAChatter”

  1. Body image is directly related to our mental health and in these years, it is growing at a fast rate. People are getting more sensitive about how they look. They are forgetting the importance of inner beauty and giving way to much importance to outer appearance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes dear agree that body image and mental health has a strong relation . in fact, I had also written a post on same theme last week. it is very important to have a sense of acceptance and self-love feeling for physical appearance, otherwise it is easier to feel depressed in recent glamorized era.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Body image does have an impact on mental health. It is very empowering to see people taking a stand on embracing our body the way we are. Thank you for this post, Swati.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A very important topic of conversation. This specially affects me when I’m shopping. I have started checking myself every time I say something derogatory about my appearance. I tell myself you have bought into the world’s definition of what is beautiful or right. It is not your definition. It has helped me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree body image affects our life. And in today time it’s in trend. Even I too sometimes feel uneasy when I put a lot of weight. I need to start loving myself the way I am and don’t feel guilty about my looks and body shape.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It took me many years to realise the simple fact that body image is different from the person we are. Great post, Swati. Self-esteem shouldn’t rely on physical appearance.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Body image and how one perceives it does have a strong impact on mental health. One needs to accept the body with all its limitations to ensure that there are no mental conflicts.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is quite a well-researched blog. I agree, body image is directly or indirectly connected to mental health and the seed is so deep in our mindset that it would take time to change society’s thought process behind it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. In the social fabric of our country, people find it okay to comment on someone’s health. Mota, patla, chota, bada, etc. are all adjectives people use to describe someone’s physical characteristics. If a man behaves effeminately, they call him names. This has deep-rooted affects that takes a lot to understand. This culture of name calling has got to stop. Period.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I remember how I used to feel when I had gained weight after my babies. I used to feel depressed and sad looking at myself. but now I’ve accepted my body as it is. It’s all about acceptance.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. As rightly pointed out by you, its very important to remain confident in your body. its important to value who you are , rather than what u look like.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes we need to be comfortable with our bodies. I just saw a video of a foreigner who had multiple plastic surgeries done on her and she went to looking from beautiful to eh.. weird! Surely mental health also suffers because of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. How we look and appear to the outside world matters a lot. And I believe not just adults, off late I am seeing it is important even for kids. And overall this appearance impacts mental health as well. It’s important that we do not let our appearance cause effects on our minds. Self-acceptance I guess is the best thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Accepting one’s own self is very important and embracing our appearance is an integral part. As you rightly said, since childhood people are pin pointed for having a certain type of body, e.g. pointing out how thin one looks or why is someone so overweight.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Yes, we should accept and love ourselves. We need to be comfortable with our bodies. Now these adays people are getting over thinking about it which is absolutely wrong. I love my self as I am.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. The tips shared by you are excellent for having a positive body image. Body shaming or self pitying anyways is not advisable and worst that one can do.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Body Image issues do affect Mental Health and vice versa. Accepting yourself and celebrating yourself as you are should be lessons added to school curriculums! So glad you wrote this helpful post, Swati.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. We should accept ourselves as the way we are. People have a habit to say to people you are looking thin, overweight, you should control yourself. I feel we should love ourselves and feel confidence

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Body image has always been one of the major factors affecting mental health ( women majorly) I think we need to work more on building confidence and doing things that enhance the overall personality. While accepting ourselves is important we could do small changes in life to feel better.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Well written and well researched post. It is indeed unfortunate that body image has such an influence on mental health and I believe it is more and more important to delink the two.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I remember how overwhelmed I was when I had gained weight after my pregnancies. I used to dislike the way my body looked and the changes that it saw but but I’ve come toaccept it as it is and love it cause this is me now and I got it after giving birth to 2 beautiful babies.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. This is most important thing that affect our mental health. Everyone is concerned about their body image. Absolutely self love is very important

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Yes female conciousness towards body starts from every early age now days. I have heard moms of girls as young as 5 years telling that my daughter likes to check herself out in front of mirror. It is largely because of TV and videos that gender biased.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I feel everyone is beautiful we just have to find the healthiest version of our beautiful self.Some great pointers for practicing self love the right way.

    Liked by 1 person

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