Body Image: It’s Good To Be Me, Part 1

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • Body Image

    I suppose that most people naturally look through windows. As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure that what is supposed to happen. Spot a window and reflexively look to the other side. So far, so good.

    Display windows fashion the latest clothing or shoes. Our neighbors windows expose the secret interior of the place called home. Careful when you look through those. Windows on planes allow us to see the top side of clouds or the checkered landscape 30,000 feet below. All in all, windows are kind of nice. But there are also those times when we look at windows instead of through them. When we do that we see…ourselves.

    I caught myself looking at a window the other day, and there I was. Me looking at me. If I had seen that reflection thirty or so years ago my head would have spun for a moment. Where did those extra pounds in my reflection come from? But that was then and this is now. The me who lives in the now thought I was looking pretty good. Over one hundred pounds had been shed to create that reflection, and I was satisfied. The thing is I could have been satisfied with that same image thirty years ago. The girl in the window looks just fine, but body image can be a saboteur. Some of us look in the window and just fine is not good enough.

    What Is Body Image?

    Body image is simply the perception we have about how we look. It can be subject to personal distortion and may not align with what others think of us at all. Factors such as emotions, moods, and early experiences may have great influence on our self-perceptions. Body image also has an impact on behavior. 

    American women are more prone to the snare of body image than are men. And distorted perceptions can lead to eating disorders or severe anxiety.

    Early Problems

    Distorted perception of body image often begins in childhood. Of young girls in grades one to three, 41% want to be thinner while 81% of ten year olds have a fear of becoming fat. In addition, hospitalizations for eating disorders has increased 119% for children younger than twelve over the last decade. 

    Struggles with body image often begin in puberty when the body naturally goes through many changes. Such changes when combined with a need for peer acceptance can lead to problems.

    Media can also be a culprit as it depicts images that can be difficult if not impossible for the average person to attain. Comparing one’s self to celebrities who have been dipped and re-dipped in "makeover beautiful" probably will not enhance the self-image of the average teen.

    Even family can add to the struggle. Family members who have struggled with their own body images may be harsh about the images of their children or siblings. In general, criticism and teasing can have negative effects on just about anyone.

    Read part 2 on Body Image: It's Good to be Me, where we explore how to build a positive body image.

    Living life well-fed,

    My Bariatric Life

     

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    References:
    MSNBC - http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/02/24/the-naked-truth-about-body-image/
    Psychology Today - http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/body-image
    Teens Health - http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/body_image/body_image.html
     
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Published On: April 29, 2013