Body Image Issues & 5 Tips For Dealing With Them

Body image is a very important topic in today’s society. We are exposed to extremely high expectations regarding our shape and fitness and are constantly told what is “beautiful” or not.

Even though it is said that “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder,” there seem to be certain beauty standards that are generally accepted. These can vary between countries, but the important point here is that they exist. The term “body image” is defined as the relationship we have to our body in the context of these societal norms and how we feel about how we look.

Types of body image issues

Logically, there are two different types of body images. You can either have a positive or negative body image. People with a positive body image like their body how it is and appreciate it that way. They don’t rely on it as a source of self-worth and are confident about their appearance.

On the other hand, a negative body image often leads to self-consciousness and insecurity, as the person is not happy about how they look. People with a negative perception about their looks often have a higher risk of developing eating disorders or mental illnesses.

The most extreme case of a negative body image is called body dysmorphic disorder. People with this illness have an overly negative image of themselves that can lead to compulsive and repetitive actions that are meant to make the perceived flaws to disappear. An example for this would be skin picking. For a person with BDD a lot of imperfections that are minor or not visible to others become extremely important to them.

People that deal with BDD can experience feelings of shame and sometimes isolate themselves from others because of that. BDD can also coincide with other mental illnesses and increases the probability to suffer from anxiety or depression.

Tips on how to deal with a negative body image

It goes without saying that you don’t have to follow any steps when you have a positive body image. But in case you do have a lot of negative thoughts about your body, you might want to consider a few of the following ideas. When you think you might be suffering from BDD, these steps likely won’t be enough, so make sure to get in contact with an expert in this field.

Be aware of what you look at on social media

This might sound a little lame, but trying to stay away from negative or body shaming posts on social media can already make a big difference in your self-perception. If everyone is telling you you need to look like a clothing rack to be beautiful, it is no wonder that we start questioning ourselves and have negative thoughts about our body. Having more positive thoughts can also be reached by searching out body positivity pages or posts.

Don’t compare yourself to others

Not comparing yourself to others automatically becomes easier when you are already are following the first step. However, you also should not compare yourself to the people around you. You are an amazing and unique person, there is nobody like you and there never will be. Embrace that and try to accept and love all of you.

Recognise negative thoughts

This one is important, because often we don’t even realise when we are holding ourselves down. We have gotten used to the voice in our head that tells us that we aren’t good enough. So, try to pay attention to your thoughts and when you identify one of these negative thoughts ask yourself the question: Would I ever say this to someone else? If not, why in world should you be harder on yourself than others? You deserve to receive just as much love from yourself as you give love to the people around you.

Stop punishing yourself

This one is related to eating. If you are trying to maintain a diet that’s fine. If you don’t want to do a diet, also perfectly fine. You should not punish yourself for eating unhealthy stuff once in a while. You should not punish yourself for breaking the diet. Don’t feel bad because you binge ate on the day before your period. It is important to eat healthy, sure, but that does not mean that we need to punish ourselves every time we eat something different than salad. Taking care of your body and staying healthy doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat chocolate again. It involves getting enough sleep as well as drinking enough water and getting the right nutrition.

Try to accept your body the way it is

This is of course easier said than done, but it is more about the small steps and the journey until you reach this point. This will not happen from one day to another. It takes time and a lot of practicing the other points, but it is really important to learn to love yourself just the way you are and not only when you have reached a certain look.

Sources and further reading:

What is body dysmorphic disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder

Body Image

Body image issues, body image, body dysmorphic disorder

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About the Author

Nadine is studying Economics abroad and takes a high interest in emotional and mental well-being. Her blog Home of Understanding features posts related to mental health and illnesses, self-care and societal issues. The blog was created at the beginning of this year out of a sudden notion that many topics are not discussed enough in our society but deserve a lot more attention. It is the blogs goal to raise awareness of these topics and motivate people to do more research on aspects and ideas they have not encountered before. 

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54 thoughts on “Body Image Issues & 5 Tips For Dealing With Them”

  1. I think our society puts so much pressure on girls/women’s bodies that a lot of us by teenager years already deep rooted problems with our bodies. I myself am still learning to navigate and appreciate my body now. It’s definitely a process.

    1. Hey Tola, definitely. There is way too much pressure. I try to never talk about my body or how I eat in front of my girls. I hope it helps. Thanks for reading!

  2. During the years the image of our body changes, I think it changes in better. I try to explain to my kid that it’s important to have a good relationship with our body.

  3. With three children, I know it’s so important that I model positive body image. Truth be told, it’s not always easy. But I feel like I needed the validation to
    Unfollow the social media accounts that make it more challenging for myself.

  4. I have over the years come to love my body regardless of small i look, or how small my boobs are or the color of my skin. I refuse to be bothered by the thought of what is regarded as beautiful and what is not. I live healthily, enjoy my life to the fullest, exercise regularly and just be positive

  5. Monica Simpson

    I hate that I struggle with this sometimes but I have gotten a lot better. I try not to speak negatively about my body in front of daughter too.

    1. Hey Monica, I have been working on the same thing! I have 2 daughters and try not to talk about dieting or my body in front of them. Body image issues are so hard. Take care, and thanks for reading!

  6. I had body image problems when I was younger, but not anymore. I guess this change of perception comes with the age. Now I’m looking at my son and how he’s struggling with negative self image, recognizing myself in him. I’m very supportive, trying to help him. So these tips came in right time. Thanks.

    1. Hey Natalie, that’s good that you can use these tips and your own experience to help him with his body image issues. That’s got to be a hard season! Hang in there and thanks for reading.

  7. I saw this quote the other day and it really made sense…. If we all ate the same meals and had the same workouts, we would still all have different bodies. Thank you for you helpful tips!

  8. After watching a show with skinny women, there have been times when I get up from my seat feeling dissatisfied with my body, so I love that you share some tips on how to love my own shape!

    Trying is easier said then done, but I always love the constant journey of working toward better things. 🙂

    1. Hey Jaya, I have definitely felt that way too. It’s hard not to. Body image issues are no joke, especially after having kids. But like you said, it’s just another journey to embrace. Thanks for reading!

  9. One of the things I have loved about getting older is image issues. I am not a thin person, mainly because of genetics, but I work out often for years and eat well. And now, that I’m in my 60’s, I don’t care what others think. I know I am healthy and not on meds.

    1. Hey Tammy! That is fantastic. I have heard that perspective from others as well, and think that’s a great perk of getting older. Thanks for reading!

  10. This was a really great read for me. I’ve lost a lot of weight, and I’ve been lifting in the gym to grow muscle. Everyone else says they see a huge change, but I still see the super fat guy that I used to be.

    1. Hey Ben, I am NOT a nutritionist or trainer, so take this with a grain of salt. But when I was doing a body sculpting competition, they told me to grow muscle increase my intake of healthy carbs. I ate a lot of brown rice and quinoa. Can’t hurt to ask about it. Hang in there, and thanks for reading!

  11. Thanks for sharing Jen! I found this super helpful because I’ve had difficulty with body image in the past. I think it’s hard to not compare yourself to others or stuff you see on social media. I’m glad to say I’ve been working on it, and I’m not as negative to myself anymore! 🙂

  12. Great post! Recently I was feeling very bad about the stretch marks on my tummy, calling myself a dummy for forgetting to apply lotion. But then I had a pep talk with myself and reminded myself that I`ve been trying to get pregnant for 5 years. Yes, stretch marks are unflattering, but they`ll also remind me of my pregnancy, so now I don`t mind them anymore.

  13. Great post. I’ve spent quite a while researching body image and body shame and working alongside a psychologist with a specialism in body image and disordered eating. I totally agree with everything that was mentioned in this post. One of the key things when it comes to ‘dealing’ with negative body image is acceptance and feeling compassionate towards your own body.

    Laura / https://www.laustworld.com

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