When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Are you focused on the best parts of the reflection of your body or does your mind zoom in on the parts that are imperfect? Do you see the reflection of someone smiling or frowning back at you? Are you happy with the way you look? (For a list of related questions, you may want to consider taking a Self-Love Quiz , if you have not already done so.)
If you find yourself in a stream of self-criticism , you just may have body image issues. Body image involves your perception about your appearance. It does not matter what others think about your body. When it comes to body image, it is your perception that counts.
Perhaps you can relate to the same experience: There can be days when you feel extremely lousy about not being able to fit into a pair of skinny jeans or about your tummy showing when you wear low-rise jeans. You somehow forget that you have been sold on the perfect body and that few, if any, exist in reality. In your temporary deluded state, you believe that there is something definitely very wrong with you.
One study found that 63% of female participants identified weight as the key factor in how they feel about themselves. In another research, it is found that that as much as ¼ of a person’s self esteem is the result of the perception about the body. Another study showed that 86% of all women are not contented with their appearance and want to lose weight.
Media Influence on Body Image
According to research studies, body image issues affect more females than males. A major contributing factor to body image issues is the media. We are bombarded daily by media messages that we just do not look good enough. Our weight is not good enough, our skin is not flawless enough, our bodies are not toned enough and our hair is not shiny enough. We simply do not look perfect. And so the advertisements try to convince us that we need more products and services to enhance our appearance.
Unfortunately, many of the pictures used by the media to represent what is ideal offer a distorted representation. Mostly, to make the pictures look appealing, the images have been airbrushed, retouched and edited. So the models have their blemishes erased, boobs enhanced and waistline reduced. It will help you to know that 96% of all women do not have the statistics of an average model.
My Body Image Issues
Clearly body image issues are pervasive. I have them too. I have some of the most critical comments on how I look. For instance, in the years after giving birth to two girls, it has become increasingly difficult to reduce my tummy bulge. It will be nice to maintain a flat stomach but there have been extended periods when I lose momentum from my exercise plan and get lazy.
Shopping is a waste of time during such periods. Nothing that I try in the changing room seems to fit. The clothes may look great on the mannequin but somehow I would feel fat in it. My body image issue is that while everyone tells me that I am not fat overall, I feel and believe that I look fat. My mind is automatically drawn to the part that has extra flab (and seemingly blows it to a bigger proportion).
I have also been led to conclude that fashion trends are not made for the average-sized and middle-aged woman. My question is: How many women can really look good in skinny jeans, florescent pink tights, ultra-short mini skirt or toga-tops? Not many women can pull off these clothes unless they are young, slim, toned and with no loose flab showing.
Fortunately, I have enough self-acceptance to not let my body image issues get out of hand. Reportedly, those with extreme negative self-perception are at risk of developing eating disorders. On the bright side, I still enjoy having meals tremendously. Considering everything else, I feel grateful. My looks are not perfect but I have a healthy and functioning body. Notwithstanding, what I need to accept is that the metabolic rate of my body has gone down with age. Hence, I just need to step up on the exercise
Learn Self-Acceptance From Glee
But, what happens if it is not as simple as losing weight through making responsible food choices or exercising? What happens if you are born with a body part that you perceive as imperfect?
Well, look no further than the TV series “Glee” for lessons on body image issues. In the award winning series, high school teens have to learn about self-acceptance despite having body parts about themselves that they do not like. In the “Born this Way” episode that I watched last week, Rachel Berry (played by Lea Michele) had to accept her nose. It was watching the episode that prompted me to write this post.
Rachel found herself struggling with the option of rhinoplasty, even though she was reminded that her idol, Barbra Streisand, had refused to go under the knife. Finally, the team members in the Glee club had to wear a T-shirt, displaying individually what about themselves they need to accept.
Amongst the team members, Rachel’s T-shirt showed “Nose”, Artie’s was “Four Eyes”, Will was “Butt Chin” and Tina was “Brown Eyes”. The words were bold and printed in black, right across the chest, against a white T-shirt.
What Will Your T-Shirt Say?
What I have gathered on the side in the recent weeks is that, resilience is built when you dare let others know about what is it about you that you would rather hide. Somehow, your verbal expression or speaking up transforms the emotion of shame. You gain freedom with the release of the repressed energy. You learn self-acceptance and self-acceptance sets the ground for .
So, will you be up to the challenge? What would yours say on your T-shirt? What part about yourself have you perceived as imperfect?