Coping With Body Image Issues In The Modern World

Updated August 28, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC Counsel The Mind, LLC

Body image issues in the modern world are, unfortunately, incredibly common and talk about these issues, and their origin is comparatively scarce. Opening a discussion about body image is vital to solving the problem and helping millions of people feel more comfortable, confident, and happy. When we start conversing about the effects of the modern world and how people see themselves physically, the power that the media and other influences have diminished, thus allowing there to be more freedom for a positive self-image.

In the meantime, as change incubates and takes off if you’re one of the people struggling with body image issues, you must be able to take care of yourself first. This article will help you understand and learn to manage body image issues healthily and effectively.

What Is Body Image?

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Body image is how you see your physical appearance and how you believe that others perceive your physical appearance. It relates to how you feel about your appearance, your beliefs about how you look, and how you think that your body compares to other people’s bodies. Even how you feel in your body (such as whether or not you feel confident and comfortable using your body to do different activities such as sports or daily activities).

In the modern world, body image issues are becoming more and more prevalent. While the focus on appearance has existed for a long time, the rise of the media has brought an increase in insecurities regarding physical appearance. Younger individuals experience some of the most challenging body image issues, but even older people face issues with their physical appearance. A negative body image isn’t an uncommon thing, but it’s also not pleasant to deal with! Everyone has a right to feel good in their skin, and though it can seem impossible to overcome body image issues, there are still things that you can do to overcome a negative body image.

Ways To Improve Body Image

Avoid Looking At Popular Media Images

Many of the pictures of bodies that you see in popular media are “fake,” meaning that they’ve been heavily edited, altered, or otherwise changed in some way. Even images that you see in movies or videos can be edited (and often are edited) with today’s technology! Most of the alterations made to these images offer unrealistic expectations of how the human body should look; this is true for both males and females since the media produces unrealistic images of both men and women. Frequently, the media can be a huge source of fuel for developing and perpetuating a person’s negative body image.

Instead of buying popular magazines or watching popular, modern films where you might encounter unrealistic body images, explore art, underground media and news, and indie films for more realistic images. There’s a movement of people who are trying to encourage acceptance of all body shapes and sizes. The exploring of genres and media where this movement exists may find more relatable images that will help you feel more comfortable in your skin and realize that you’re not alone in the struggle.

Observe What You Like About Yourself

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People who struggle with negative body image sometimes find it difficult to find positive things about their bodies (or themselves in general). Instead of observing the things you don’t like about yourself, try to notice the things you do like! Start small and keep going from there. Maybe you really like your toes or a particular birthmark, or you may feel like you look great in a particular outfit. Or perhaps you like the sound of your laugh or your exceptional baking ability! The things that you notice about yourself that you like don’t have to be physical. After all, physical appearance is only part of the package!

Talk With Someone You Trust About Your Body Image Issues.

Being open about your body image issues with a trusted friend, a parent, sibling, another family member, or a therapist can be an excellent way to start resolving the problem. By talking with the people who care about you, you might get valuable input not only about the good things about your appearance but also about who you are as a person. Plus, when you start talking about your issues, you might notice that you begin to feel slightly better when you say your thoughts and emotions out loud. You might be surprised that your friends and family might share the same exact feelings and sentiments you’re experiencing.  Having a real conversation about what you’re struggling with can be an impactful step toward recovery.

Notice The Nice Things People Say About You 

When you’re talking to people or interacting with others, tune into the nice things that people say about you. Paying attention to how other people see you can help you see yourself more clearly. Remember, though, there will be times when people will say negative things too. That’s why it’s crucial to learn to love yourself! Try to surround yourself as much as possible with positive, friendly people who will boost your confidence and be supportive. To help yourself remember all the numerous things that people say to you or about you, consider keeping a journal so that you can remind yourself of these kind words on the days when you’re feeling discouraged or for times when you receive any negative input.

To reverse this technique, notice the nice things about other people and let them know about it (if it feels appropriate)! For example, make a note of your friend’s great hair or your mom’s smile, or maybe tell your brother that he’s good at his favorite sport. When you turn your energy toward noticing the positive things in other people, you’re also turning your energy toward seeing the positive things in yourself. Giving other people positive attention is also a gift to yourself, and they’re likely to reciprocate later on. You never know what other people are going through, and the little kindnesses are some of the most important ones. When you put out positive energy, you’re more likely to receive positive energy in return.

Use Positive Self-Talk

One of the distinctive aspects of a negative body image is a pattern of negative self-talk. Self-talk can be described as the conversations we have with ourselves and the things we say to ourselves in our minds. Negative self-talk about your body can be challenging to stop, but active attention to practicing positive self-talk will often, over time, counteract the negative. At first, you might not notice your negative self-talk; keep a journal or talk to someone you trust about your internal thoughts and conversations so that you can see or hear your thoughts out loud (or on paper). This way, you’ll be able to notice negative patterns more quickly, and you’ll start the process of replacing the negative comments with positive or balanced comments instead.

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Complimenting other people or saying nice things to yourself (about yourself) when you’re in private can help reinforce a new pattern of positive self-talk. There are support groups available to encourage more positive thought patterns and encourage a more positive body image in individuals who struggle with body image. Changing your thinking is one of the most difficult things to do, but it’s also one of the most rewarding and produces some of the most profound and joyful outcomes! Even if you feel discouraged at times, keep going, and ask for help and support when you need it. Your friends and family can help you in keeping yourself accountable and keep in check when those negative thoughts begin to arise in your head. The hard work will pay off in the end!

Getting Help With Negative Body Image Issues

A negative body image can be extremely toxic, and many people struggle to resolve it. Getting help from a therapist or psychologist can make a huge difference! There’s no shame in reaching out for advice and guidance with resolving a negative body image issue. Most people have trouble with their body image from time to time and can relate to what you’re going through.

It’s essential to get help right away if you have an eating disorder associated with a negative body image. When left untreated, eating disorders can cause serious health repercussions down the road and lead to various other kinds of issues. Communicate right away with someone you trust or with a healthcare professional if you notice signs of an eating disorder in your behaviors. Visit this link to learn more about the most common eating disorders associated with negative body image issues.

Conclusion

If you’re struggling with body image issues, don’t be afraid to reach out to a licensed professional who can help. At BetterHelp, our therapists are dedicated to helping people like you overcome all kinds of difficulties, including body image issues and eating disorders. Contact us today to set up your first appointment!


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