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Everyone is likely to be affected by body image at some point in their lives. Whether it is a teenager whose body is changing a lot in a short time, someone who has recently given birth, or anyone who has gained weight, the condition of the body can affect the way we see ourselves.
This is called body perception. It’s a combination of internal and external factors that include our personal expectations of what our bodies should look like. Body image can lead to mental health issues, but practicing body acceptance in various forms is one of the best antidotes.
- Body image is a form of perception that is based on internal and external factors
- Body image issues result from negative body beliefs coupled with mental health issues
- Mental health issues relating to body image include anxiety and eating disorders
- The best way to resolve body image issues is with talking therapy and acceptance
What is Body Image?
Body image is the way a person perceives their body; it can be positive or negative. It can also be realistic or unrealistic based on their perceptions, worldviews, and general disposition. These days, body image is a mental health concern because of advertising and social media filters.
Body image is a balance between the perceived and ideal image of the body. Most people have an idea of their body in their mind coupled with some thoughts and opinions; this is a perceived body image. Ideal body image is at the other end of the spectrum; it’s based on cultural trends.
Body Image Issues
Body image issues happen when someone has a negative body perception that is reinforced from the outside. Perhaps someone has experienced some negativity from the world regarding their body that has reinforced a negative self-belief. When an internal belief is reinforced from the outside, it can create mental health issues, regardless of whether a comment is accurate.
Body Image and Mental Health
Body image and mental health are closely related. These days, people of all ages are shown images of ideal bodies; they could be in the form of professional models or social media influencers using a range of filters. Either way, it creates a false perception of body image.
When someone’s image of the ideal body doesn’t match what they see in the mirror or in their imagination, mental health issues begin to develop. Some common body image disorders include eating disorders, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders, which can be very serious.
Body Image and Physical Health
There is a close connection between physical health and mental health. When we train regularly and look after our nutrition, our mental health and wellbeing improve, but people’s body image issues find it harder to maintain good physical health due to misperceptions of them. Body image can be improved in small ways, like looking after dental health to improve confidence.
Negative Body Image
When it comes to negative body image, people are on a sliding scale. Some people might wear baggy clothing to cover up their bodies or avoid activities where they have to show their bodies, such as swimming. But it can lead others to depression and serious mental health experiences.
Negative body image can come from the external world, but it requires an element of self-doubt or self-consciousness to take root in a person and become an issue – this is called internalization. Someone preoccupied with body image might benefit from new perspectives.
Positive Body Image
A positive body image can be cultivated no matter what body type a person has or where they are on their body image journey. It’s easy to look at perfect bodies and compare them to yourself, but understanding that this is a common misperception is a door to body positivity.
Having a positive body image means appreciating yourself for all of your qualities, not only your physical appearance. When people open up to the abundance of human qualities that exist within them, body image becomes a single factor in a larger perspective on individual value.
Body image can have a serious impact on mental health and wellbeing, but it can also be a gateway to greater understanding and liberation through body acceptance. Body acceptance comes in three specific forms; these are body positivity, body neutrality, and body liberation.
Body positivity is the expression of unconditional love for the body, which can be activated in anyone no matter what body they have. Body neutrality is a feeling of indifference towards the body, and body liberation is a form of body acceptance despite some dissatisfaction with it.
Body Image Solutions
Body image can be a serious hindrance to life quality; it can also be a serious mental health condition for some people requiring treatment. If you are affected by body image issues, there are a few things you can do to get out of the harmful mindset that impacts your mental health.
Start by cultivating the opposite thoughts and opinions that come up for you. If you notice that you are being mean to yourself or someone else, think of the opposite idea or opinion. This practice trains the brain to create more positive neurological pathways supporting life quality.
Practising self-acceptance is another valuable and indispensable practice if you have body image issues. Remember, negative or positive body image is a form of imagination which can be transformed with the right mind tools. Taking therapy and meditation are excellent avenues.
Body image and mental health are closely related. Some people live with a negative body image that could be resolved with some positive affirmations and friendly communication, but for others, the problem is more serious and advanced. It becomes a disorder affecting their life.
No matter what degree of body image issue there is, it is worth addressing it since even minor issues can work against your wellbeing and quality of life. Disengage from the world for a time and cultivate self-kindness. Acceptance and appreciation of the body are helpful strategies too.
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Originally published at www.idyllicpursuit.com