There are times when we all look into the mirror to see our reflection for a variety of reasons. Maybe it’s to check out our outfit or make sure our hair looks good. We might want to ensure that clothes emphasize particular body parts or hide others. There are other times we are looking at ourselves to see how our image makes us feel.
Depending on what our eyes tell us, we may experience joy, confidence, dismay, or horror about what we see. These perceptions about our physical image have the potential to boost or destroy our mood or impact the quality of whatever interactions we might have in the near future. For many in our society, the struggle to feel positively about their body image can be a lifelong challenge full of negative thoughts, hurt feelings, and missed opportunities to engage with others confidently.
Where Body Image Starts
*Full disclosure, I don’t have the magic answers to fight against these negative body perceptions.*
I grew up as a fat, weird, gay kid and have to actively fight to not let these old beliefs about how I look affect me as an adult. There are times where I can look in the mirror and feel really good about the way I look, but there are also times when I think that my love handles are extremely noticeable.
It can be the angle of how my reflection might be caught in my field of vision that can thrill or kill me. Sometimes perceptions change from positive to negative within a matter of minutes. I know logically that my body is not changing from moment to moment, but the emotions experienced feel extremely strong and have some real effects on my mood.
It’s not unusual to like or dislike particular body parts. Anything is fair game, including hair, skin, nose, eyes, butt, stomach, chest, muscle mass or definition, thinning hair, too furry or smooth, being chubby or skinny, or one eye bigger than the other. Unfortunately almost everyone deals with concerns relating to body image, even the ones we may perceive to be sexy or hot.
Don’t think you know about someone’s life or how they feel about themselves. Some people you think are ultimately confident also struggle with body image in addition to other things like self-esteem, self-worth, life purpose, and many other issues. Sometimes the people who put out the most confidence can also be the most insecure.
How Body Image Relates
Many of us experience an inner voice that tells us things about ourselves or brings up feelings of insecurity or unhappiness. These voices also have the potential to affect our self-worth and how we may choose to engage with others around us. Those struggling with body image issues may avoid looking at their own reflections or limit social activities based on how they feel about their appearance.
These people can have difficulties finding love, getting laid, developing friendships, gaining acceptance in groups, having good self-esteem, and engaging in social situations. When taken to extremes, eating disorders, obsessions with working out, or desires for surgical body changes can develop, and these thoughts may lead some into some dark places, including desires to commit suicide.
We don’t necessarily grow up celebrating our bodies. Kids can be cruel; popular culture may make us feel insecure about our bodies, and we often compare ourselves against others. Although we may not be able to protect ourselves from these influences, we can make efforts to become aware that negative thought processes are starting to emerge and develop confidence that we have control over those thoughts and feelings.
How Body Image Evolves
It is important to identify destructive thoughts and negative ways of thinking about ourselves. Challenge the internal voice that tells you awful things about yourself. With enough practice and perseverance, you can become less susceptible to negative perceptions and increase your confidence in yourself.
It doesn’t matter if we have ripped abs or a gorgeous bubble butt. We need to work on not allowing these types of issues to stop us from creating the relationships that make life wonderful and engaging in activities we enjoy. It is important to improve our lives in many ways, not just physically. We need to remind ourselves that we are attractive, important, and deserve good people in our lives. Instead of busting our asses to achieve some unattainable goal of perfection, we need to focus on loving and accepting ourselves so we can create a life we love living.
These efforts will not guarantee that people like us more, but having confidence that our charisma, confidence, and a warm smile can get us farther than having a perfect body is a huge step forward. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with striving to create an image of ourselves that we want. Just don’t let it get in the way of living your life.