Why Do So Many People Struggle With Body Image?
In a society that scrutinizes bodies and aggressively markets every product from face creams to plastic surgery to “selfie” editing software, it’s no surprise that most people experience immense body dissatisfaction. Indeed, a lack of positive image remains a troubling and rising issue in modern society. Research on body image shows that over 90% of women and up to 45% of men report feeling unhappy in their bodies.
Poor body image is closely connected with poor self-esteem. When individuals do not like how they look, it impacts their confidence. They may believe their body defines their worth, which can result in feelings of shame, guilt, or worthlessness. Body dysmorphia, when one overly focuses upon real or perceived flaws, is a version of poor body image that contributes to persistent anxiety and negative self concept. This low self-esteem can lead to problems related to substance use, codependent relationships, disordered eating, compulsive habits, and even suicidal behavior.
While body image problems can emerge at any time, they may start to occur as early as young childhood. These body image issues may run in families, and society often reinforces the criticism and shaming of diverse body types. Puberty, when bodies typically change and social/emotional growth abounds, is a vulnerable developmental period that increases susceptibility to body image issues. The new developments during this period may create feelings of insecurity in identity and worth which may be projected onto the body. Other factors, like genetics, depression, perfectionism, low self-esteem, trauma, bullying, social anxiety, and emotional regulation issues, can perpetuate a negative feedback loop.
How I Can Help You With Poor Body Image
Therapy can help address some of the challenging obstacles associated with poor body image. Regardless of your appearance, shape or size, it is possible to build a healthier, proactive relationship with your body. To achieve this goal, we may work on reframing your thinking and finding more acceptance within yourself. We may also identify exercise to practice compassion and kindness not just for your body but for all aspects of self. Your body does not define you, but your body is the vehicle keeping you alive. Together, we can learn to honor your body for all that it does as well as explore interventions to create more tolerance for those parts of your body that add to a negative self concept.