People who accept the way they look and feel good about their bodies most of the time have a positive body image. Their appearance may not match their family’s ideals or the ideals in the media. But they have learned to be proud of the way they look.
The following resources focus on some of the top health concerns that can affect a woman's body image. Information and resources are provided for each health concern.
Alopecia (hair loss)
Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOD)
Americans spend more than 40 billion dollars a year on dieting and diet-related products – that’s roughly equivalent to the amount the U.S. Federal Government spends on education each year! Almost half of all women smokers smoke because they see it as the best way to control their weight. Of these women, 25% will die of a disease caused by smoking.
Researchers report that women’s magazines have ten and one-half times more ads and articles promoting weight loss than men’s magazines do, and over three-quarters of the covers of women’s magazines include at least one message about how to change a woman’s bodily appearance—by diet, exercise or cosmetic surgery.
Unlike girls, guys are less likely to talk to friends and relatives about their bodies and how they're developing. Without support from friends and family, they may develop a negative self-image.
Preoccupation with and distortions of body image are widespread among American women (less so among males), but they are driving forces in eating disorders, feeding severe anxiety than can be assuaged only by dieting.
A negative body image develops when someone feels her or his body does not measure up to family, social, or media ideals. Many people feel as if they don’t measure up — especially when they measure themselves against the standards of beauty commonly seen in the media
Body image is how you feel and what you think when you look at yourself. It’s also how you imagine other people see you.
Our psychological boundaries develop early in life, based on how we are held and touched (or not held and touched). A person who is deprived of touch as an infant or young child, for example, may not have the sensory information s/he needs to distinguish between what is inside and what is outside her/himself. As a result, boundaries may be unclear or unformed. This could cause the person to have difficulty getting an accurate sense of his/her body shape and size. This person might also have difficulty eating, because they might have trouble sensing the physical boundaries of hunger and fullness or satiation. On the other extreme, a child who is sexually or physically abused may feel terrible pain and shame or loathing associated to his/her body. Such a person might use food or starvation to continue the physical punishments they grew familiar with in childhood.
Body image involves our perception, imagination, emotions, and physical sensations of and about our bodies. It s not static- but ever changing; sensitive to changes in mood, environment, and physical experience. It is not based on fact. It is psychological in nature, and much more influenced by self-esteem than by actual physical attractiveness as judged by others. It is not inborn, but learned. This learning occurs in the family and among peers, but these only reinforce what is learned and expected culturally.