Body image is how you see yourself which involves your thoughts, feelings and perceptions. Body image is what you believe about your own appearance (including your memories and generalizations). It involves:
• How you feel about your body, including your height, shape, and weight.
• How you feel within your body.
Body image is a fluid, ever changing concept which will change over time. Everyone to an extent experiences some dissatisfaction with their body however those with persistent negative body image may need clinical help in shifting these in order to develop a more positive body image.
Negative Body Image
• A distorted perception of body shape and size – (perceiving parts of the body unlike they really are).
• Constantly comparing the self to others and feeling worse off.
• Feeling ashamed, self-conscious, and anxious in relation to body shape and size.
• Feeling uncomfortable with body shape and size.
Positive Body Image
• A clear, true perception of body shape and size.
• Appreciating natural body shape and understanding that a person’s value lies in more than their physical appearance.
• Feeling proud and developing acceptance of body and not spending an unreasonable amount of time worrying about food and weight concerns.
• Feeling comfortable and confident with body shape and size.
Body Image and Eating Disorders
People with negative body image have a greater likelihood of developing an eating disorder and are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and obsessions with weight loss.
We all may have our days when we feel awkward or uncomfortable in our bodies, but the key to developing positive body image is to recognize and respect our natural shape and learn to overpower those negative thoughts and feelings with positive, affirming, and accepting ones.
Treatment will be tailored specifically for each case. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may be used to target key thoughts and unhelpful behaviours in order to build an improved relationship with the body. Also, Compassion Focused Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Based Therapy may be used to tackle body image difficulties. Techniques will be taught which will allow for the development of self-reflection, mindfulness and compassion which will enable the individual to move towards body acceptance.