Body image simply implies to how one thinks and feels about their body. It involves a number of things such as your emotions, thoughts, actions and perceptions with regards to your body. Body image doesn’t necessarily comprise of what you see when you look into the mirror or what other people think about your body. It essentially deals with how you feel about your body as a whole. Most people end up having the wrong impressions about body image. Having a good body image isn’t necessarily about having a slim-trim figure or looking flawless. Having a good body image is all about feeling happy and satisfied with your body. Things like over-exercising, dieting, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression are more than likely to ruin your body image. To sum up, the term body image simply defines the way a person perceives his/ her body to be and assumes that others perceive the same. Body image is most often affected by social pressure, social media, television, friends and family.
What do the Statistics say?
All you need to do is to read the statistics to understand how people perceive their bodies to be.
- About 91% of the women are believed to be unhappy with their body image. As a result, they resort to things like dieting in order to get their bodies in shape.
- Body image is closely related with self esteem. Many adolescents have low self esteem because they “think” that they have a poor body image. This leads to problems like eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, depression, substance use or early sexual activities.
- Approximately 5.58% of the girls in college feel the need to maintain a particular weight.
- Almost 40% of the women and 20% of the men have considered getting cosmetic surgeries done. These statistics are the same for all ages, races, and genders.
- Students who are subjected to mainstream media are more likely to relate body image to looking sexy rather than relating it to their overall appearance.
- About 95% people having eating disorders are aged between 12 – 25.
- 38% men sacrifice at least one year of their life in their search for the “perfect body”.
- Almost 23% of the men and 45% of the women who belong to the healthy weight bracket feel that they are overweight.
How to Improve Your Body Image
Improving your body image has nothing to do with looking sexy, having flawless skin, maintaining a particular figure or whitening your skin tone. There are a number of things that you can do to improve your body image, but first and foremost, you need to transform the way you look at your body. It’s not about looking hot or sexy. Its about feeling happy and satisfied with what you have.
- Surround yourself with positive, supportive relationships. Although we have nothing against magazines or tabloids, many of them are useless when it comes to helping you improve your body image. A number of tabloids promote negative thoughts by showing you how overweight you are or shaming you for being too skinny. This leads to negative perceptions which ultimately leads to negative relationships. You need to ensure that you fill your surroundings with people who have a positive approach to life and are supportive of you, irrespective of how you “look”.
- Exercise regularly. Be grateful for what your body is able to do rather than how it appears to be. You don’t have to over-exert yourself or participate in extreme sports to maintain that perfect body image. All you need to do is go for regular jogs and appreciate the fact that your body allows you to move from one place to the other. Hitting the gym is a great idea as well. But, make sure that you hit the gym for the right reasons, and not to “improve” your body image.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Research has proved that almost all young women and more than half of middle aged women have resorted to things like dieting. Dieting helps you to lose your weight quickly, but the moment you stop, you’re likely to gain it back. This “weight loss, weight gain” seesaw is extremely perilous for the body and it leads to a number of health problems and heart diseases. People who resort to dieting are also known to be susceptible to eating disorders. The best thing to do is to regulate your diet and eat healthy food.
- Set realistic goals for self-improvement. You need to understand that not a single person is “perfect”. Each human being has his or her flaws. This is what makes us unique. This is what creates and defines our identity. Try to understand that even those perfect looking celebrities have “issues”. Try to set realistic goals for yourself and keep reminding yourself that “real” people are never perfect. Perfect people are only good for one of those wax museums.
- Avoid negative self-talk. Research has shown that our brains can’t figure out the difference between things that it thinks, says or hears at some level or the other. Therefore, if you tell a person that he/ she needs to lose a couple of pounds, it is the same as telling yourself that you need to lose a couple of pounds. Avoid negative thoughts and don’t dissuade others. Remember, your brain is likely to take in all that information and feel that the messages were directed towards you.
- Pamper Yourself. Indulge in things like therapeutic massages, proper sleeping hours, relaxing bubble baths or luxurious spa sessions. Pamper your body whenever you get the chance. If you feel good physically, it becomes much easier to enjoy your body and love it for what it is.