Let’s talk about body image. Body image is your perception, thoughts, and feelings of your physical self.
There are 4 aspects of body image:
Perceptual- the way you see yourself
Affective- the way you feel about the way you look
Cognitive- the thoughts and beliefs you feel about your body
Behavioral- the things you do in relation to the way you look
Having body image issues involves being overly focused on the physical aspects of your body. This can be comparing your size, shape, features, appearance, etc. to others or unrealistic ideals. Having body image issues can lead to mental health issues, low self esteem, eating disorders and more. The three most common types of eating disorders are binge eating, anorexia, and bulimia.
Research has shown that children as young as 3 have developed body image issues. That same research has shown that girls develop a desire to be thinner starting around age 6. It also showed that girls’ body dissatisfaction is predicted by how they perceive their mom feels about her own body. Parents were also deemed more controlling of girls’ eating behaviors than boys- the girls in the study were not heavier than the boys. Then, by the age of 17, over 80% of teens will have body image issues.
A negative body image can come from many sources but the main include family, peers, the media, and social pressures.
How you can support a positive body image:
Avoid negative comments about your body and others’
Talk about what bodies can do rather than what they look like
Avoid talking about diets and labeling food as good or bad
Avoid mentions of thin, fat, skinny, etc.
Talk about being healthy and happy as opposed to size
Try saying body positive or body neutral affirmations
A list of body neutral affirmations can be found here.