body image and mental health
The term body image refers to how you feel about your physical self, and how you believe others perceive you. Feeling uncomfortable with your appearance may lead to negative body image.
Negative body image can come in many different forms:
- Worried about your weight
- Comparing how you look with your friends, family, or people on the internet
- Feeling underrepresented in the media
- Feeling unattractive
- Struggling to find clothes you feel comfortable in because of how they look on your body
- Feeling ashamed of your body
Causes of negative body image
Negative thoughts about your body image are typically influenced by your day to day life. In the age of social media and television, it can be hard to escape looking at other people’s appearance. The media you consume may also promote on type of body as the ‘desired’ look with little representation of other bodies. This may all lead to you comparing yourself, which results in negative body image.
People in your life may also comment on your appearance, or you are limited to wearing certain clothes due to your body. These comments and experiences may also lead to negative body image, which can impact your quality of life and mental health.
Impact of negative body image
Negative body image can affect anyone at any stage in their life. If you are struggling with how you look and how you think others perceive you, it may make day to day tasks, such as leaving the house and socialising, feel almost impossible. Having ongoing feelings of negative body image can lead to mental health problems:
- Negative body image may lead to anxiety if you are always worrying about your appearance
- Negative body image may lead to depression if the feelings about your body start making you feel low
- Eating disorders may develop if you feel the need to change your body due to experiencing negative body image
- You may develop Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Steps to take
If you feel like you are struggling with your body image, there are many things you can do to help change your negative thought pattern. Being kind to yourself is one of the most important steps you can take in changing how you feel about your body and appearance. Here are some other steps you can take to reduce your negative body image:
- Focus on all the positive aspects of you body: Your body keeps you alive and it is your home, it’s important to remember all the amazing things your body is capable of. Focus on one aspect of your body that you like and build from there.
- Take a step back from social media: It can be hard to focus on the positive things about your body when comparing yourself to others. There can be so much pressure online to look a certain way, stepping away from social media can reduce this pressure.
- Set boundaries: If people in your life comment on your body, or bodies in general, try to set boundaries by telling them you are not comfortable hearing or partaking in these types of conversations.
- Reach out to a loved one: Talking to someone you trust about how you feel is invaluable. Confide in them about your experiences and feelings, and remember they love you and want to help you flourish.
Our Information and Support Line signposts you to relevant support in your area that most fits your needs.