“Body image is the mental representation an individual creates of themselves.” How an individual represents themselves may or may not depend on how others perceive their look as. “Body image is defined as the multifaceted psychological experience of embodiment.” Body image can be positive or negative. It covers how one estimates their body size, how attractive they think they are and how emotional they are regarding their body shape and size.
The physical changes during puberty and uneven physical development make teens feel vulnerable, uncomfortable and self-conscious about their body whether they are overweight or not.An individual with positive body image is happy with the way they look and they feel attractive in the way they already are. They don’t think what people or the society thinks of them. A negative body image occurs when an individual is not happy or satisfied with how they look or their physical appearance. They always compare themselves to others and feel that they are not beautiful or good-looking like others. They feel ashamed, embarrassed, and lack confidence about their look. They feel uncomfortable or awkward in their body even when they look in the mirror or when they are in any social situation. They don’t like feel like going to any parties or any social gatherings, as they don’t feel confident enough about their body to wear a dress.
Individual with negative body image may feel that the parts of their body is not perfect or is twisted when stood in front of the mirror. An individual with negative body image might feel that he/she is very fat even when they are not. They have low self-esteem and usually wish to go through surgery to change their body. If these thoughts continue for a long time, it could lead many disorders like eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and many more. Individuals form their perception of body attractiveness, functioning, health and acceptance from their early childhood. As individuals get older their thoughts are influenced by friends, family members, and role models, media. FAMILYMembers in a family can influence our thoughts and opinions. Parents, especially can influence their children’s body image by their expectations, the way they speak to the child about his/or her body shape and by their actions. Individuals whose parents criticize their appearance, comment on their weight and put restrictions on what they wear and what they eat are prone to develop negative body image. Parents by having strict rules on their child’s food habits might be influencing their child to have a poor body image and there by effecting their mental health.
Encouragement from parents to lose weight and diet may also lead to body dissatisfaction in children. A study done by Harvard medical school found that daughters of mothers who showed over concern about their own body shape and weight are more likely get that behavior. Children get most of their behaviors from their parents. The reason for many adults to have poor body image might be because of the insecurities they faced in the family. Parents criticizing about their child’s junk food habit think that as their concern for the child but these comments results in the child believing that he/she is worthless unless they have a perfect body. Parents who are overweight often tell their child that they don’t want them to go through what they faced. They always try to make sure that their children stay in shape all the time and not face all judgements. But this might lead the child to worry that if they gain weight or lose weight, they might let their parents down. And that can cause serious emotional problems.
Friends are a great part of your life. They help you in your difficulties and be with you when you are sad or happy. Friends can also influence negative body image in an individual. Peer pressure is at fault for influencing negative body image affecting teen self-esteem and body confidence. Teenagers compare themselves with their friends and peer regard to body image, their physical activities and eating habits. Girls starve themselves to become thin so they can look like their thin friend and look equal to her. Psychologist Eleanor Mackey of the children’s National Medical Center has made a study on eating habits of teenage girls and boys. She found out that 5% of boys and girls suffer from eating disorders.The unhealthy comparison between teens make them suffer from Bulimia, anorexia and also become obese. Sometimes to come out of the stress of meeting these standards teens start binge eating and put on weight, then feel guilty and again starve themselves to become thin. The peer pressure is seen seriously large among girls. When thin girls are worshipped in school and made popular, other girls also strive hard to become popular by starving, wearing heels though they are not comfortable with it and also skip meal once a day.
They will do any and everything to be that popular girl who everyone wants to be friends with. Boys also suffer from poor body image because of peer pressure. Boys during teen year want be all strong with built-up body and be a man. Boys who don’t have six-packs and not strong enough are considered losers among school and their boy group. Boys end up taking steroids to look strong and not loser which might cause serious damage to their health and bodies. This leads to depression, eating disorders and low self-esteem. Teens because of peer pressure end up taking drugs and alcohol.MEDIA As use of social media is increasing in modern days, it’s influence on body image among teens and young adults is also increasing. By using social media girls and boys are being exposed to certain body standards and body shape ideals which may contribute to the development of eating disorders and body dysmorphia. It’s not like only girls are affected negative body image but boys are also equally affected by it. Negative body image no longer remains as a only girls thing. The old gender stereotypes play a significant role in body perception of both boy and girl.Boys from a young age, watch action movies, video games and actors in magazine with a six-pack abs and bulked up body.
Unlike girls they don’t want to skinny but want to bulk up like hulk. Boys are made to think that being a man means being strong physically. This pressure to be like a man can lead them go through unhealthy diet, over exercising, take other supplements or also can lead drug use and smoking. Body image in girls is mostly affected by the women they are close to. Like a mother, sister or a best friend. When any of these constantly worry about their weight and shape and keep complaining about it they also tend to get influenced of such behavior. The media shows that girls should have a hour-glass waist, perfect curves and thin thighs ad what not. The photos of celebrities with this perfect body are photoshopped most of the time. But teen girls who think that is their real body try to be like ideal model or actress. Having friends who give main importance to their body shape and size around you can lead to body dissatisfaction. Girls to meet all these standards go through unhealthy dieting, over exercising which can lead to eating disorders and BDD. This also causes depression, low self-esteem and when this goes overboard it can also lead to death.
Income of the family also has an effect on the body image of an individual. Individual with low income status have a thought that as they cannot buy whatever type of clothes they want or any costly beauty products, they think that they are not beautiful enough or don’t look good. They develop poor body image and have dissatisfaction about their body.
Individuals in rural area are more prone to negative body image than people in urban areas. Urban individuals wear clothes that look too good and buy products that are costly to make themselves look pretty and attractive because they have that facility. But rural people usually don’t have such facilities and some are not allowed by family to wear such things though they want to. When they see others having such an opportunity, they feel bad for themselves which leads to lack of self-esteem and develop poor body image.