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Let’s talk about body image

In a time where comparison to other people is increasingly common, body image concerns are extremely prevalent. In fact, a survey of 2,500 young people carried out by the Irish Examiner indicated that 72% reported body image concerns that caused them stress or difficulty.

 

This short blog is an introduction to the topic of body image.

 

What is body image?

Body image refers to the multifaceted psychological experience of embodiment that encompasses one’s body-related self-perceptions and self-attitudes, including thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors. (Ramos et al.)

 

In simpler terms, body image relates to our thoughts and feelings about our bodies. These thoughts exist on a spectrum of positive to negative and you may have different thoughts and feelings about your body day to day and even hour to hour.

 

There are different  aspects of body image, for example, perceptual body image relates to how you see yourself, which is not always in line with how you look.


Affective body image relates to the feelings you have about your body, for example you might feel uncomfortable feelings when you think about your body.


Cognitive body image describes the thoughts you have about your body and finally, behavioural body image relates to the behaviours you find yourself engaging in due to body image, for example skipping social occasions or disordered eating habits.

 

When a person becomes deeply dissatisfied with their body they begin to have an overwhelming amount of negative thoughts and feelings about their bodies and this is a risk factor for the development of disordered eating or an eating disorder.

 

 Often people think they have to be satisfied with every part of their body in order to have a positive body image, when really this is an unrealistic standard for most. A positive body image is more about accepting the body you are in and showing it respect and appreciation.

 

How can you develop a more positive body image?

There is no denying that with the ever changing beauty standards placed on individuals in today’s society, and with the constant exposure to these beauty standards on social media, it can feel like a real challenge to work on body image, however, working on your body image will help you live a more fulfilling and satisfying life.

 

Reach out for support – Body image is a very worthwhile struggle to get support for, don’t be afraid to get in touch with us or another qualified professional for help.

 

Focus on body functionality over appearance

When our focus lies so heavily on what we look like we forget to practice gratitude for what our bodies can do. Things we often forget to show appreciation to our bodies for, for example “my body can rest” , “my body can walk to work”, “my body allows me to hug my partner or my children”.


Keeping a body gratitude journal can help with this. Other ways you can cultivate this is to incorporate mindfulness practices, focus on movement that feels good, instead of movement with the intention of changing how you look.

 

Reassess how you use social media

Less exposure to people on social media who trigger negative body image thoughts is extremely useful when you are trying to improve your body image. Even with the knowledge that social media doesn’t portray an accurate reflection of people and their bodies, photos of such can still trigger thoughts about our own appearance. However , it is not always about unfollowing or deleting social media, you can also cultivate a more positive space by following pages that highlight greater body diversity.

 

 

We hope this blog has been useful and has given you a brief introduction to what body image is and the issues which may arise/what can be done about these issues.


Until next time,


God bless,


Lloyd Horgan.

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