Emotional Health and Body Image
Emotional Health and Body Image. The fourth in a series of ten articles on Women’s Emotional Health from the book, Women’s Emotional Wellness by Robert C Hoffman.
Negative Body Image Can Affect a Woman’s Emotional Health
Body image refers to a person’s perception of their own body. That includes their view of their overall attractiveness, which may or may not necessarily correspond to society’s standards. A person’s body image is their way of seeing themselves physically and plays a big role in the development of their self-esteem and confidence in life.
The development of a healthy body image often starts early in life and is nurtured through influence in the environment. Family, peers, schools, and the media play a role in the development of a person’s body image.
A person’s body image is also directly related to their self-esteem and acceptance of who they are. That’s why developing a healthy body image is key to a woman’s lifelong mental and emotional health. If not nurtured properly, it tends to promote a negative perception of themselves and their body. An unhealthy body image can be the leading cause of various mood and personality disorders, eating disorders, and mental health problems.
Body image has nothing to do with how physically attractive a person really is on the outside. It’s a work of the mind and is the reason why there are girls who feel confidently beautiful within themselves regardless of their shape, size, and color, and yet there are models who are sick and suffering from an eating disorder, and they are highly dissatisfied and insecure of their bodies.
Signs of a Negative Body Image
An unhealthy body image plagues many women and can negatively affect their mental and emotional health. Here are tell-tale signs that someone may be suffering from a negative body image:
- Highly self-critical and self-conscious of their physical attributes.
- A tendency to compare themselves with other people physically.
- Envious of a celebrity or another person’s body.
- Prone to obsessive dieting to achieve their desired body weight.
- Suffering from an eating disorder.
What You Can Do to Help
A person with an unhealthy body image might be able to benefit from your help and counsel. It won’t be an easy task to help someone reshape their mindset on body image, but you can definitely encourage and influence them in positive ways.
However, if the woman you know has an eating disorder, they will almost certainly need professional help. It’s not something you can overcome over a girlie chat and a cup of coffee. You can, however, help them to recognize that they do in fact need professional help, in order to be healthy both emotionally and physically.
Here are ways to help someone you know to deal with a negative body image.
Make Them Feel Loved and Important
Remind them that they are loved and are important to you and to other people around them. Pay them compliments and give them positive comments, however, don’t overdo it. Make it natural and sincere, and do not lie ever! Don’t tell them something that you both know is not true. You need to uplift them in a positive way.
Remind Them Health and Beauty Comes from Within
To help a woman with a negative body image reset their thoughts about health and beauty, you need to remind them that these attributes come from within. Encourage them to ignore what they see in the media and what’s plastered on the magazine covers. It’s fake beauty; it is not real beauty.
Many of the pictures of ‘gorgeous’ women shown in magazines today have been photoshopped before going to print. Many of them kick up a huge fuss too if they’ve been caught by the paparazzi in their ‘natural’ look. Let your friend know they look great at any time of the day!
Encourage Them to Be Honest with You
Let them know you are there for them and that they can freely express their emotions in front of you. You can provide a safe, judgment-free environment for them where they can open up about their thoughts and feelings. Be a listener, not a talker. Let them speak and be heard. You will learn and understand where they are coming from, and you will gain their trust and love in the process.
Give it Time
A person’s thoughts and beliefs about their own bodies took time to grow, and enough meaningful encounters to develop them into what they are right now. Know that you cannot transform a person’s negative body image overnight. It took time for the negativity to grow, it will take time to prune all the negativity away. At least you can help and be supportive. Little things go a long way.