August 10, 2019

The Psychological Impact of Negative Body Image: What Can You Do About It

In every circle of friends, there is always one person who talks negatively about themselves or their body to be specific. The person whines and constantly complains about their—often invisible—belly fat. If by any chance you happen to be that friend, then here’s why you need to stop doing that—now!

Why People Indulge in Self-Body Shaming

Negative, positive, or neutral, we all have an image of our body in our mind. This image didn’t form overnight. Instead, it has made its way to our subconscious mind through a process—a process that starts as early as infanthood. The experiences of our formative years shape how we think. This includes how we think about family, friends, peers, and the world at large. During the same time, we also form an image of ourselves or rather what we think about ourselves.

People often underestimate the importance and impact of self-image. While a positive self-image may or may not help you reach the stars, a negative self-image will almost certainly pull you down—at least partially. This is backed by research. According to a 2012 study by researchers at the University of Notre Dame, people who continuously make disparaging remarks about their body are less likable to others than those who have a neutral or positive outlook of their body.

Why do people resort to body shaming themselves and have a negative image of their body in their mind? Following are some answers:

1.     24/7 Exposure to the ‘Perfect’ Bodies on Social Media

Social media became a thing—the ‘in’ thing—the ‘cool’ thing—and the thing that everyone wanted to be on, after the launch of Facebook in 2006. At a party, while dining out with friends, or even in their bathrooms, people would take selfies and after hours of ‘photoshopping’, they would upload it to –yes, you guessed right: Facebook.

On seeing these uploaded images, people on that person’s ‘friends list’ would almost immediately start to compare themselves with the person who uploaded the images. Often, they would jump to the conclusion that can never be as fit, lean, or ripped as them. Today, with the advent of Instagram, the photo-sharing app, this negative—and often self-esteem running, exposure has gone to a whole new level.

Today, people in general and women in particular, can’t help but compare their body to that of Victoria’s Secret models whose pictures they see on this photo-sharing platform. When that happens, there is only one outcome—the expected outcome—self-body shaming and a negative body image.

2.     The ‘Size-Zero’ Effect

Size zero doesn’t make you unattractive but it doesn’t make you a ‘demigod’ either. A concept or a figure size established in the 1950s, Size Zero has been measured differently during different times. However, its definition has always remained the same—extremely thin girls who can pass as models.

The desire for a size zero figure propels many women resort to purging, an act of self-induced vomiting to control weight or shape. This ultimately—and inevitably, leads to purging disorder or even bulimia, a condition in which a person eats excessively (binge eating) and then throws it all out via purging.

3.     Peer Pressure

Whether it is the career path you choose, how you invest money for the future, or the image you maintain, nobody influences your life more than your peers. Where do you think most people develop the habit of smoking or alcohol consumption from? From their peers. Whether you accept it or not, peer pressure is a reality—a reality that influences most, if not all, of your life’s decisions. This includes the image you maintain of yourself.

The image of peer pressure on body image is seen most in the case of teenage girls. Studies show that teenage girls resort to starting or throwing out whatever they eat the figure standards set by their peers or ‘group of friends’. Ultimately, this leads to anorexia, a condition in which you continuously resort to self-starving and have a lack of appetite.

You may think otherwise, but things are no different for boys or men. Owing to peer pressure, they want to look as macho and well-built as they can. Generally, boys or men who are categorized as ‘nerds’ or ‘geeks’ are easily influenced by peer pressure. The image of the ‘perfect’ body they have in their mind comes from the people they consider as ‘cool’ and ‘winners’. When they can’t achieve the perfect body they have in mind, they resort to self-body shaming and even develop disorders such as binge eating.

Too much exposure to ‘perfect’ bodies, the ‘size zero effect’, and peer pressure are the major reasons people have a negative image of their body in their mind. Is there a solution to this? A solution to overcome the psychological impact of negative body image? For sure, there is! You just need to look in the right places.

The Help That One Can Get

There’s help for everything including for negative self-body image and self-body shaming. One of the best ways of getting help is opting for body image counseling. Whether you are a man, a woman, or a teenager, a body image counselor can help to overcome the negative image of your body that you have in mind.

Today, there are experience body image counselors who can help you recover from all sorts of disorders arising from a negative body image. This includes permanent recovery from eating disorders such as purging, binge-eating, bulimia, and anorexia.

A body image counselor has all the knowledge and tools required to treat negative body image. They can help you to overcome your condition if you’re willing to embrace your body.

When you learn to accept your body with all the good as well as the bad it entails, you condition your mind to think positively about you—including thinking positively about your body and image. This makes it a whole lot easier for the counselor to treat your condition and steer you away from all the ills and evils that are a side effect of self-body shaming and a negative body image.

by Bobby J Davidson

We love our company and we love what we do.  Check out the ‘Why Percento‘ page to learn more: Love of Technology and Business!  As the President of Percento Technologies International, I provide day-to-day leadership to the company’s senior management and I am personally involved in the strategy, business development and sales activities of the firm.

The company was founded in 1999 with the purpose of providing a one call source for organizations in need of Enterprise IT Consulting and Management.  We also provide a line of products in the boutique Cloud Server space with a touch of high-end website strategy consulting and design services.   We personalizes the IT Service experience with a team approach, working with clients from diverse sectors of industry, including energy services, financial, legal, entertainment, healthcare, hospitality, retail and general and/or corporate business.