Everyone has a body image, which is essentially defined as what we think we look like. A person’s body image is created through a combination of their personal life experiences and external influencers, like culture and society. It is not at all uncommon to feel dissatisfied with your appearance occasionally.
However, some body images issues, like body dysmorphic disorder, are more serious and can interfere with your daily life. Developing a positive body image can significantly improve your happiness. If you are experiencing excessive concern about a perceived physical defect, you may benefit from counselling. A mental health professional can be helpful in dealing with normal, negative body image feelings as well as specific body disorders.
Most commonly individuals may compare their bodies to ideals seen in real life or portrayed in the media which lead to dissatisfaction as well as engaging in extreme behaviours like excessive dieting and exercise or repeated cosmetic surgery in an attempt to reach their desired body shape. This behaviour may place individuals at risk of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders.
Body Image and the Media
The media may be harmful as it portrays high standards of physical attractiveness which can be difficult or impossible for most people to reach. For highly influenced individuals they may quickly feel inadequate and attempt to copy of “look” through trying to change their physique at the gym. It has to be realised that an individual’s body shape is based on factors such as their height and their bone- structure which can mean any amount of working-out will not reach the look the individual is looking. Excessive amount of working out can lead to serious weight loss if an individual if even taking protein supplements then it can lead to gaining extra, excess muscle which risks turning to fat.