Body image refers to how an individual sees their own body and how confident they feel themselves to be. This includes how you feel about your appearance, what you think about your body itself, and how you feel within your own skin. It may also include how you behave because of your thoughts and feelings toward yourself.
Now, many people have concerns about their body image. These concerns often focus on weight, skin, hair, or the shape or size of a certain body part. However, looking at body image entirely, it is not always related to your weight and size. We are going to unpack that idea a little further on.
Why is a Healthy Body Image Important?
If you have a poor body image, it probably means you’re having problems accepting yourself as you are. Self-acceptance is crucial to a good body image. If you accept yourself, that means that you acknowledge that you are perfectly okay just as you are and that you are happy with yourself the way you are.
On the other hand, if you have a healthy body image, you accept yourself as you are. You realize that you aren’t perfect, but you also realize that no one else is either. You hold yourself to reasonable standards and have reasonable expectations for yourself.
If you have a healthy body image, you like the way your body looks and feels just the way it is. You may still make a decision to improve your body, by losing weight or exercising more for instance, but that’s because you’re concerned about your health or other factors, not because you think it will make you more valuable as a person.
Social media influencers, celebrities, TV, movies, magazines and the internet all bombard you with images and pressures about what your body should look like. The problem is these versions of “beauty” are not obtainable because they aren’t realistic.
The majority of images are air-brushed versions of models who weigh 23 percent less than the average woman. Nevertheless, millions of individuals become infatuated and idolize this idea of beauty, that they resort to unhealthy measures to try and fit themselves into that impossible mould.
As a result, as a society, we have this subconscious mutual understanding that that is what beauty is. That is what we should all look like. And if you don’t, well, there is no room for you in the “beauty” category that has been created.
Now, how can we break through this unhealthy version of body image that was created?
How Can We Enhance our Body Image?
Body image is not fixed. Our body experiences change as we grow older, and each stage in our life is associated with body image markers. Maintaining a positive body image is a lifelong process.
For starters, maybe try to purge your social media feeds of accounts that don’t make you feel good about yourself. If you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others, you’re less likely to feel good about yourself. Follow accounts that spark your interests and that leave you with positive feelings. On Instagram in particular, many accounts are focused only on portraying perfection or an idealized image of the body.
It’s ok to admit that you don’t necessarily love everything about your body. It’s ok to feel neutral or even indifferent about your body. Your worth and value do not lie in your shape or your size or in any other aspect of your appearance. Body image does play a part in self-concept, but it isn’t everything.
Changing negative body image means more than changing our bodies. It means changing how we think, feel, and react to our bodies. Body positivity is designed to foster acceptance and love of your body, as well as acknowledge the many amazing things that your body is capable of.