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How Can You Have A Positive Body Image?

Embrace your imperfections. They’re what make you, you.

May 08, 2019

The way you feel about the way you look is called body image, and it has a big influence on your confidence, self-esteem, behaviors and attitudes.  It’s normal to feel unhappy with your body from time to time, but a constant negative body image can often lead to unhealthy behaviors like eating disorders.  When you have a healthy body image, you’re happier, healthier, and live life more fully. 

Negative self-talk

Everyone is made differently—It’s a fact of life. It’s what makes the world so interesting.  Because our families, friends, the media, and others influence us about how we feel about our appearance, learning to love the unique parts of us isn’t always easy.  Sometimes it’s hard not to be critical of ourselves. 

When we were little, we didn’t care about what our culture thought was attractive.  As we get older, we notice the influences around us.  This may cause us to say critical things to ourselves like, “My nose is too big,” “I’m too thin,” “I’m too fat,” and so on.  We see airbrushed, filtered photos of people on social media and TV with perfect bodies, faces, clothes and hair. These images tell us that this is what beauty must look like.  But be skeptical—Most of these images are doctored or fake, and most people in real life don’t look like that.

The Barbie Myth

The Barbie Myth shows us a great example of how distorted and unrealistic our culture’s ideal of beauty is.  If you were to look at a row of Barbie dolls, you’d notice they’re all the same body type, and they’re all thin.  But if Barbie were a real woman:

  • She’d be six feet tall and weigh 100 pounds. 
  • Her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body. 
  • Her body would be too narrow to contain all of her organs.
  • She would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition. 
  • Ken would be 7 feet 8 inches tall with a 50-inch chest and 43-inch waistline. 

You were born to be real, not be perfect.You were born to be real, not be perfect.Courtesy of Unsplash
 

You can apply this example to action figures as well.  Consider this:

  • Only 2% of males have the same physique as action figures.
  • In the last 10 years, action figures have lost a good proportion of fat and have gained unattainable muscle.
  • 25% of teen males believe they are under-weight from comparing themselves with media images.

Embrace what makes you differentEmbrace what makes you differentCourtesy of Brain Quote

The Social Media Distortion

Social media can be hard to escape—Everyone’s on it.  While it has its good points, psychologists have found that teens who spend a lot of time on social media are more likely to objectify themselves and compare themselves to others. This can lead to increased feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image and loneliness.  If you feel like this is happening to you, try stepping away from social media for a while.  You may find that you’re happier—And your happiness is way more important than using social media to feel important.

Try taking a break from social media if you keep comparing yourself to othersTry taking a break from social media if you keep comparing yourself to othersCourtesy of Unsplash

So, what is beauty?

Believe it or not, thin isn’t “in” everywhere.  Different countries and cultures have their own standards about what beauty is.  For example, overweight women are considered attractive in Africa, Jamaica, and other regions of the world.

To be beautiful is to be the best possible version of yourself, on the inside and out.  Beauty is 99.9% attitude and confidence:  If you’re able to appreciate your own beauty, then it will shine through for others to see, too. 

Social media can encourage an appearance-based worldSocial media can encourage an appearance-based worldCourtesy of Unsplash

So, how can you get a more positive attitude toward yourself? 

  • Count your blessings, not your blemishes.  Celebrate your individuality and your quirks.  Focus on what’s strong and healthy with your body.
  • Come up with positive things about yourself, but don’t include anything about the way you look.
  • Make a sign and put it on your mirror, telling yourself that you’re a beautiful person both inside and outside.
  • Take pride in your opinions, ideas, and talents.
  • Don’t starve yourself!  Diets don’t work in the long-term.  Eat to fuel your body.
  • Exercise and be active.  It increases confidence, gives you energy, and makes you feel strong. 
  • Don’t compare yourself to your friends—You’re all meant to be different. 

May is mental health awareness monthMay is mental health awareness monthCourtesy of Caminar
Share Your Thoughts Below

What are some of the ways people modify their own appearance online?  Why do people do it? What do they gain, and from whom?