Understanding Body Image

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Body image is simply how an individual thinks about their body appearance, including height, weight, shape or size of the body, or even skin colour. For many years now, different societies, cultures and social media have shaped their criteria and views of an ideal body type and appearance. Those standards set by the societies have helped many people and also have demotivated many. In the era of social media, where preconceived norms of a desirable body type are easily spread, many individuals get inspired by those portrayals, especially when it comes from a favourite celebrity or public figure.

Body image can be conceived both positively and negatively. Positive body image refers to perceptions of individuals who believe that their physical appearance does not define their worth. They are not bound into believing specific criteria to be ideal for an individual’s appearance. They accept their body as it is and focus on maintaining it well. People with a positive body image are well-motivated and confident in life.

Negative body image refers to when an individual is dissatisfied with their appearance. They lack confidence and feel ashamed of how they look. Individuals with negative body image constantly compare themselves to others, have regrets about it and are always uncomfortable. Negative body image leads to severe consequences, such as depression or other mental health disorders, unnecessary surgeries, inappropriate dieting habits, or even artificial ways like hormonal injections to build muscles.

Certain areas of our lifestyle and biological aspects have specific requirements that help in having a healthy and balanced life. It is vital for every human being of any age to maintain a bodyweight that is appropriate according to age and sometimes height. Being overweight or even underweight can lead to both physical and mental harm to the body. Obesity is a complex and deadly disease caused by excessive body weight of a person leading to harmful health (physical and mental) implications. Obesity is caused by genetic or hereditary influences, hormonal imbalances and poor lifestyle.

The physical appearance of a person with an obese body is not always pleasing to the person and others around as well. The socially constructed norm of a desirable body shape and size has influenced many people to the setback with their body image. It has demotivated them towards their lifestyle, and sometimes it leads to outcomes like depression, anxiety, eating disorders or even physical harm to the body. Even being underweight can be problematic for an individual in terms of health (both physical and mental). The most commonly used word to offend an individual is “anorexic”. Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder in which an individual does not eat enough in fear of gaining weight as they have a distorted perception of weight.

There can be any kind of reason behind an individual being the way they are in terms of their body shape and appearance. Sometimes it’s because of their own life choices like eating habits and limited involvement in physical activities. And sometimes, it is due to any medical condition or disease. Underlying causes differ for every individual. Every individual should find out the underlying reason behind an unhealthy weight or appearance and treat it accordingly, instead of being negatively influenced towards their bodies and trying to change it in a manner that may lead to severe consequences.