A few weeks ago I gave a community presentation on Body Image and many participants reported the following information was very helpful! There are 3 things that often contribute to how we perceive our physical self.
1-Early environmental issues. If you were praised based on appearance rather than internal performance, you are more at risk for thinking negatively about yourself. In addition, if you were raised in an environment were one or both parents were always “dieting”, you may also be at risk for developing a more negative perception of self.
2-Cognitive Vulnerabilities. People who see the proverbial “glass as half empty, rather than half full” are more likely to judge themselves negatively. Personalities who have a tendency to focus on flaws rather than strengths often have body image challenges.
3-Cultural Influences. Social media and even new phone apps (such as “Plump and Skinny Booth”) are altering our view of self more than ever. Cyberbullying seems to contribute to a negative body image as well as performance pressures, say in sports, can lead to extreme measures to alter ones body,such as performance enhancing drugs. New websites are popping up that even instruct the user “how to get an eating disorder” to control weight, which are a contributing risk factor as well.
The good news is all 3 of these factors can be managed or treated. A few useful tools can be found on websites (the positive side of technology!) such as centerforchange.com and thebodymovement.com. In addition, a Body Image Workbook by Thomas Cash PHD can be very useful, especially if used in conjunction with a trained therapist to address the above factors.
Last, learning facts about images we see are explored in a new documentary by Taryn Brumfitt called “Embrace”. This can help increase a more accurate view of ourselves an others. If you or a loved one struggle with negative body image, call Wasatch Family Therapy today to seek guidance from a body image professional and take charge of those negative self perceptions!