Do you have a healthy body image? When you look in the mirror, are you happy with the reflection? A healthy body image is one that is positive. Many girls have negative body images—they don’t like what they see.
Causes of a Negative Body Image
Did you know our family members and friends can pressure us to adopt an unhealthy body image? Teasing and weight gain can also negatively affect us. However, most of our pressure comes from the media.
Girls, young and old, are pressured to look like what TV, the Internet, magazines and billboards show us. But none of those “looks” are realistic. In America, we’re taught to look like Barbie®, be as tall and thin as super models and stay young forever. There’s so much wrong with these teachings.
#1 Barbie® is a plastic, manufactured doll.
#2 We’re not in control of how tall we grow (or the physical features like skin color, hair color, eye color, etc. we are born with).
#3 Women have different body shapes and body types; bone structure and weight distribution.
#4 Fashion & runway models are glammed up by a team of make-up artists, hairstylists and fashion designers. If they’re shooting for print, they’re probably airbrushed and digitally altered. This is not a normal, day-to-day existence or lifestyle. The majority of us are not walking around town with a glam squad in tow.
#5 If we live long enough, we’re going to grow older; and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Somewhere along the line, we’re taught to make S.M.A.R.T. goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely. Why is it we girls throw out the S.M.A.R.T. goals rule when it comes to body image? For starters, the ideals we aim for are certainly not attainable for most or all of us, or realistic.
Consequences of a Negative Body Image
A negative body image can lead to depression, low self-image and low self-esteem, and becoming overly self-conscious and apathetic. It can also lead to self-destructive behaviors such as over-eating, yo-yo dieting, binge eating, anorexia, bulimia, exercise bulimia, and addiction to cosmetics or cosmetic surgery.
Shaping a Healthy Body Image
You are not alone if you have a negative body image. The things that are projected to us affect how we see ourselves. A negative body image CAN be overcome. There’s no cut-and-dry method—only diligent effort, time and patience.
- Accept and love your body and looks. I know this may be hard at first. Most of us want to look like the movie version of ourselves. She isn’t real. You are who you are. You look how you look. The most important way to begin accepting yourself and how you look is to become grateful to God for how He has made you. Whenever we hate ourselves, it’s rooted in ingratitude.
- Change what you’re able to change, but be S.M.A.R.T. about it. Don’t entertain fad diets and get-fit-quick schemes. Adopt a healthy lifestyle—food, physical activity, stress reduction.
- Don’t let people’s opinions of your looks cause you to not love yourself. As God’s creation, you are beautiful. Period. You are in charge of your reactions. Don’t start disliking yourself and hating your body because one person may not like how you look.
- Don’t focus on your flaws. Instead, play up assets you do like. When it comes to physical flaws, you can camouflage and cover-up those with properly fitting clothes. Learning and embracing your body shape can help. And remember, having physical flaws just makes you human. They don’t make you unattractive. EVERYONE has a physical flaw somewhere.
- Be patient. As you grow older, your body image will change. Things about yourself you just knew you hated may become your favorite feature down the road. Go easy on yourself.
- Tame the Self-Convos. Don’t beat yourself up. Encourage yourself with positive affirmations. Begin with thinking on and speaking things about yourself that are wholesome, true, beautiful, commendable, uplifting, merciful, peaceable, loving and kind.
- Be God’s Ideal. Instead of being the media’s ideal, or even that of family and friends, be God’s ideal. Be a girl after God’s own heart. He’s more interested in what’s going on with your heart, mind and spirit.
It’s never to late to adopt methods to shape a healthy body image. It’ll help make you better, healthier, happier and whole.