Why is it that in today’s day and age most women feel bad about their bodies? Regardless of age, it is safe to say that most American women feel they are fat and more than half of women in America are constantly dieting. Our body inevitably defines who we are; to others and to ourselves. Everyone wants the perfect body but in their quest for this they are crossing dangerous boundaries. When it gets out of hand, some women begin to have distorted perceptions about their body image, which can lead to some very dangerous outcomes. The dangers of a negative body image can lead to self mutilation/ suicide and (more common today) eating disorders.
When we take a look at our body image we start to understand that there is more to it than just how we look. There are very intense emotions that come along with all of that. When we begin to have distorted perceptions about our bodies, we begin to feel some very intense emotions; depression, alienation; and hopelessness are all some of the emotions one can feel with a negative body image. As these emotions escalate monthly, daily, hourly thoughts may turn to self mutilation or suicide. Some people do not know any other way to deal with the pain they are feeling inside; they do not understand that help is out there.
This is probably the most common effect of a negative body image. We see this mostly in teenage girls trying to fit in with friends, impress boys, or achieve the ideal body (you know, the ones they see on magazines and TV). And although it is very common among teenage girls, it is also found among grown women struggling with a negative image of their bodies. It is found that individuals with eating disorders have an extremely difficult time accepting their bodies as they are. This is a contributing factor to the beginning of their eating disorder. They often go on crash and fad diets; exercise uncontrollably; or try using laxatives to lose weight and achieve that perfect body. As this behavior continues it becomes harder and harder to control their eating habits and feelings. Their body starts to become accustomed to this behavior which can have tragic affects. Research has confirmed that as you continue to have a negative body image you are at a greater risk of relapsing into a previously cured disorder. Anorexia and Bulimia are the two most common eating disorders found among women and if they do not find help eventually these disorders will kill them.
Overcoming a Negative Body image
So how does one stop thinking negatively about themselves? Well, there is no “cure” to a better body image, but here are some helpful hints to get you started in the right direction:
1.Know who you are. Most people who struggle with their body image will find that they need to do a bit of soul searching; find out what makes you happy; what makes you tick. What are your strengths and what things do you do well? Think about the emotions you feel and the behaviors that need to be changed in order to change your body image. Set some realistic goals for yourself; start small and work your way up.
2.Understand that all bodies are different. Do not use the pictures of thin models you see in magazines, TV shows, and newspapers dictate to you how you should look. Those women are not the “ideal” body although they would have you believe that. Look around you; women have different shapes and sizes. All are beautiful and all are unique. If you want to feel better about how you look on the outside take a trip to the spa or get some fashion tips off the Internet. There are some simple things you can change in your wardrobe to help you feel more confident in terms of the physical.
3.Change your diet. The food you eat has a huge effect on how your body feels. If you are not feeding it the essential five food groups you are starving yourself. Help your body out by giving it the food it needs. In return you will have more energy and feel healthier.
4.Exercise. Exercise has been used by doctors as actual medicine to help with depression. If you are feeling blue, get involved with some non-competitive sports like dancing, yoga, or simply walking. You will be amazed at how much a little exercise will do for the body.
The dangers of a negative body image can be tragic if you do not catch yourself quickly. If you are already in danger then do not hesitate to get some professional help. It is never too late to realize who you really are; know your own potential; and successfully get there.