How Body Images Challenge Our Self-Worth

Written by: Karamat. H (M.Phil Counseling Psychology)

Body image is both mental and psychological: It’s both the mental picture that you have of your body and the way you feel about your body when you gaze in the mirror. A healthy body image isn’t just tolerating your appearance or “not disliking” yourself.

A healthy body image is considered complete acceptance and feeling of contentment for the way you look right now, at this present moment. It means not resisting your physical appearance, but rather embracing it and living fully within its shape.

When you have a healthy body image, you don’t try to alter your body to be what you consider “perfect.” A healthy body image includes recognizing the positive individual characteristics and strengths that make you feel proud of yourself. You are much more than your weight, shape, and appearance. Remind yourself of the special qualities such as your kind heart, your sense of humor, or your ability to adapt to any situation.

Body image and self-esteem influence each other directly. The duo can have an effect on your feelings, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Our self-esteem is tricky, it can be affected in unconscious ways. For example, when we compare ourselves to fake and photoshopped images of models in print media we automatically start to judge and criticize ourselves internally. This often leads to commenting on other women’s bodies without invitation and in an inappropriate manner.

We also affect our self-esteem through negative self-talk, which is when we think unfavorable thoughts about our bodies and self-image. Unfortunately, we rarely think positively about ourselves, which is damaging to our body image.

How to be Content with Yourself and Your Body:

Be Careful.

Be careful of the content you read. Some of it is intended to make you believe that you’re instinctively imperfect. It's important to remember that someone is usually financially benefiting from these messages such as the food industry, the fashion industry, etc. This content we soak up is catchy but it is also toxic.

Respect Yourself.

Do not call yourself harmful words such as “fat,” “lazy,” or “failure.” Negative thoughts such as "I'm ugly" can have detrimental effects on your self-worth. Would you say these things to a friend? Probably not. So, you definitely shouldn't say them to yourself.

Challenge Your Negative Thoughts.

Do not engage yourself in negative thoughts about your body and self-image. If you notice yourself drowning in negative thoughts, try to figure out what's causing them. Perhaps you are feeling depressed, low, or sad?. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, ask yourself what you would suggest to a friend if they were facing the same situation. Then take your own advice.

Cultivate Self-Compassion.

Do not forget that every person struggles with their body image at different points in their life. Opening up the discussion to friends and family about body image will only reveal how common this issue really is. You’ll be surprised to find that most people desire a trait that you consider completely undesirable. In order to combat these negative thoughts about certain parts of your body, write a list of the positive benefits of each body part or feature you don’t like or that you are struggling to accept.

Practice Good Self-Care.

Self-care is an essential part of forming a healthy relationship with your body. You have to get quality sleep, eat healthy and nutritious foods that will fuel your body right, and make some time for yourself every day. It is a fact that you deserve these basic needs to live a healthy and joyful life.

Do Not Compare Yourself With Other Women.

  • Enjoy the person you are in this present moment.
  • Begin to love and accept yourself.
  • We are not just bodies.
  • We are complete beings, and our bodies are just vehicles in which we
  • travel through life.

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