Help! Why Do I Hate My Body?
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated December 25, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Dawn Brown
Have you ever faced in front of the mirror and thought, "I hate my body"? If yes, then you might have poor body image. In the age of technology and social media, there is a rise in the number of people who have poor body image. While this condition is often associated with women, there is an increasing number of men who also have poor body image.
We are our very own worst critic. We often hear a nagging voice in our ear that whispers to us that we are too fat, our hair does not look good, or our outfit does not fit us. Sometimes these whispers turn to loud shouts telling us that we look ugly and that nobody will ever notice or be drawn to us. Sometimes, the loud shouts can turn into a destructive behavior; thus, it is important that you learn about poor body image and how to overcome it.
In the age of technology, more people have poor body image. Highly edited pictures on social media make it seem like everyone looks perfect. But it's a fiction. And when you constantly compare yourself to it, you'll never win. There are several factors that contribute to poor body image.
Where Do These Thoughts Come From?
Our society dictates how we're expected to look. Research has suggested that "children as young as 3 years old can have body image issues." This can come from influences like television, movies, and social media. The messages that children pick up on can damage their self-esteem and feed the cycle of self-shaming.
Aside from social media, poor body image can also result from negative family experiences. People who grow up in a household that values physical beauty tend to have a distorted body image. Children whose parents also have low self-esteem are prone to have poor body image. Familial experiences shape your perception. This can feed the inner voice, leading you to feel bad about your body. Your childhood experience can also impact the way you see yourself. People who have poor body image may have felt disappointment, rejection, and humiliation when they were younger. Instead of blaming others, they tend to direct the blame on themselves.
If you have poor self-esteem and body image, you aren't alone. The vast majority of people have at least one negative thought about their appearance each day. But self-esteem can be improved and poor body issues overcome. We'll discuss how below.
Poor Self-Image Leads to Other Disorders
Poor body image can lead to bigger problems if not addressed. Some who have this condition also might have an eating disorder. Some who aren't happy with their looks engage in negative behaviors, such as restricting their food intake, purging, and binge eating to prevent weight gain. If not controlled, this can wreak havoc on your overall health.
Another disorder associated with poor body image is body dysmorphic disorder. If you're preoccupied with your appearance and believe there's something wrong with you, it can lead you to engage in repetitive behavior focused on altering your looks. These behaviors are potential signs of such a condition. In most cases, people who have this disorder seek surgery to address perceived problems with their body that don't even exist.
How Does This Inner Voice Work?
It's crucial to know how your internal voice works, so you can catch it before it affects your self-esteem. This internal voice tends to be triggered by specific events, so make sure to observe your surroundings.
The voice can appear when you make eye contact with someone. It can appear when you're at work. It can appear anytime and anywhere. When you get these harmful messages, determine what kinds of emotions they stir up. Do they remind you of a particular event or person? By examining these emotions, you'll be able to manage and deal with your low self-esteem by addressing the cause.
Help for Poor Body Image
After you've determined the source of your negative thoughts, you can take small actions to counteract them. Below are some suggestions:
- Practice kindness to yourself and others: Telling yourself you're fat and ugly is being mean to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Sure, you have flaws but who doesn't? The animosity you show yourself may also reflect your attitudes toward others. If you tell yourself you are fat or ugly, you may also be doing the same thing to the people around you, albeit unknowingly. So be kind to everyone, including yourself.
- Don't go on a diet hype: As mentioned earlier, having a poor body image can lead to eating disorders. Even if you don't have an eating disorder now, having a poor body image puts you at a higher risk of developing one. Studies have found that people who constantly go on diet hypes have a higher risk of developing eating disorders that can lead to physical and mental health concerns. So, drop the diet hype and deal with your emotions first.
- Put the body image in the right perspective: Remember that your physical attributes are superficial and ephemeral. So instead of obsessing over your looks, focus on your hobbies and your friendships. Trying to make yourself look attractive is good, but it should never make you so preoccupied that you don't have time for anything else.
- Accept your body: Maybe you inherited your mom's nose or your father's brows. Genetics play an important role on how unique you look. Don't change the way you look just to fit other people's expectations. Learn to accept yourself and what you have. That way, you will be able to achieve inner peace.
- Don't base your looks on your favorite celebrities: Celebrities feed the cycle of low self-esteem. If you want to change the way you look so you can look like a movie star, think again. Remember that celebrities are far from an average Joe or Jane. They are surrounded by an army of stylists to make sure they look good all the time. By looking up to celebrities, your standards become impossibly high. Thus, you are trapped in your own unrealistic goals. There are so many role models and body advocates out there who have embraced their flaws. Look up to them for inspiration instead.
- Set realistic goals: If you are out of shape and start working out to achieve your goals, make sure the goals are realistic. Most people who have poor body image have set unrealistic goals leading to a lot of bad consequences. For example, people want to lose five pounds in a week, so they do whatever it takes, including starving themselves. Don't allow yourself to injure yourself just because you want to look good.
- Celebrate the unique you: So what if your brows are too far apart or your nose is a little crooked? The voice saying "I hate my body" is all in your head. Celebrate your unique beauty. Ask what makes you special. You'll be surprised by what you may discover.
Asking for help is always okay. Surround yourself with positive people who lift you up and make you happier, regardless of how you look. Having a poor body image usually means you have more problems dealing with your inner critic than with how you look. So, before you even start exercising or planning your meals, make sure you deal with your critic first by talking to a therapist. An in-person or online therapist is very helpful because you can discuss your issues with them and deal with the cause of the problem.
If you think your poor body image has turned into body dysmorphic disorder, don’t hesitate to seek treatment right away. You can do this from your home if you’re concerned about being seen at a therapist’s office. A study showed that online therapy to treat body dysmorphic disorder is effective. Thirty-two participants used asynchronous electronic messaging to consult with their therapist over a 12-week period. Results showed that participants improved significantly immediately after treatment and that this was maintained at a 3-month followup. Participants also saw a reduction in depression symptoms and were satisfied overall with their online therapy experience.
How BetterHelp Can Support You
BetterHelp online counselors make getting the help you need with your body image easy because you can do sessions from the comfort and privacy of your home (or wherever you have an internet connection) and at a time that works best for you. You can read a couple of reviews of BetterHelp therapists below from people experiencing similar issues.
"Working with Carrie has been incredibly helpful, since we began text based sessions a few weeks ago. Carrie is helping me remember my own strength and build new confidence, and I see its effects in every part of my life. She is helping me build a solid foundation for my life, starting with remembering/allowing myself to eat regularly. I need baby steps, and while I felt a bit silly and ashamed to ask for help when I first started with BetterHelp, I am so grateful for the small steps she's helping me work through, and the confidence I'm building as a result of each small step. Thank you, Carrie. To anyone who needs help with a complex set of issues that feel unconquerable, I highly recommend working with Dr. DuPont. She's helped me change my life, and with active engagement, she can help you change yours."
"Jillian is a fantastic counselor. She's a keen listener who promotes self-acceptance, self-love and compassion. Jillian helped me more than I ever could have imagined. I knew therapy could be powerful, but even I was surprised with the amazing strides and tangible results after working together!"
Overcoming a negative body image can be challenging because there are so many factors you need to deal with. Remember that you are not alone when facing this particular problem. Ask for help from the right people, and you won't hear that voice saying, "I hate my body" any longer. Take the first step today.
Previous ArticleHow Your Body Image Affects You
Next ArticleWhy Don’t I Love My Body? A Description Of What It's Like To Have Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Learn MoreWhat Is Online Therapy? About Online Counseling
Abuse ADHD Adolescence Alzheimer's Ambition Anger Anxiety Attachment Attraction Behavior Bipolar Body Dysmorphic Disorder Body Language Bullying Careers Chat Childhood Counseling Dating Defense Mechanisms Dementia Depression Domestic Violence Eating Disorders Family Friendship General Grief Guilt Happiness How To Huntington's Disease Impulse Control Disorder Intimacy Loneliness Love Marriage Medication Memory Menopause MidLife Crisis Mindfulness Monogamy Morality Motivation Neuroticism Optimism Panic Attacks Paranoia Parenting Personality Personality Disorders Persuasion Pessimism Pheromones Phobias Pornography Procrastination Psychiatry Psychologists Psychopathy Psychosis Psychotherapy PTSD Punishment Rejection Relationships Resilience Schizophrenia Self Esteem Sleep Sociopathy Stage Fright Stereotypes Stress Success Stories Synesthesia Teamwork Teenagers Temperament Tests Therapy Time Management Trauma Visualization Willpower Wisdom Worry
Coping With Body Image Issues In The Modern World What Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder? Definition, Criteria, & Diagnosis Why Taking a Body Dysmorphia Test Can Help You Start Getting the Help You Need What Everyone Should Know About Social Media And Body Image The Link Between Body Image And The Media And Its Damaging Effects Learning To Love Your Physical Appearance