According to a recent study completed by The Butterfly Foundation, more than one in three Australians are unhappy with their appearance or some aspect of how they look.
In these findings, over 73 percent of people stated they wished they could change their appearance, and 40 percent are “dissatisfied” with the way they look.
As it turns out, people are most often their own worst enemies when judging themselves, particularly in today’s day and age. Beauty plays a significant role in many of today’s marketing campaigns, which further reinforces the desire to look perfect in every way.
Accepting Yourself Is A Key To Happiness
When talking about your body image, this term refers to the feelings and thoughts we have about our bodies.
It’s how we view ourselves from our personal perspective.
Frequently, the way we perceive ourselves is very different from how others see us. However, the way we think and feel about our body and our appearance impacts in multiple ways in daily life.
When we’re able to see ourselves with a more positive attitude, it dramatically enhances self-esteem and outlook on life.
When we hold a negative view, or even worse, hate-filled attitude towards our body, it creates a generic dissatisfaction about life. It diminishes self-esteem, which may lead to feelings of worthlessness, weakness, or inadequacy. When left unchecked, negative body perception can contribute to developing eating disorders.
People Are More Appearance Conscious Than Ever Before
As recently as three decades ago, the research found appearance dissatisfaction was becoming more common, with many average people not liking how their body or certain aspects of their appearance looked.
Fast forward ten years later. Researchers found that people, even young children, were under more pressure to look and feel beautiful and perfect.
Extensive studies at the beginning of this century estimated as much as over 80 percent of adults had significant body image concerns. In 2020, this number is likely much higher.
Sticks and Stones…
Unfortunately, the thought about what others think often comes up when talking about body image.
In a day and age where selfies and social media are all the rage, it can be challenging for most people not to feel self-conscious about their appearance and how they will get evaluated by others.
These “others” could include people who are barely in our lives or those we don’t know at all.
And if or when they leave scathing comments about our appearance, their words can cut to the bone, resulting in more hypersensitivity and awareness of our perceived shortcomings.
When we’re already feeling unhappy about the way we look, unfavourable comments can further the descent into a stronger negative body image.
How Our Partners Can Exacerbate Body Shame
In many cases, our partners may play a part in influencing a negative body image by supporting their loved one’s feelings of body dissatisfaction.
One theory is that by reinforcing a negative body image, the person reinforcing it feels more in control of the relationship.
For instance, the person reinforcing the poor body image might feel confident and more in control of the relationship when their partner feels poorly about the way they look.
If this is the case, the person reinforcing the poor body image may not have to worry as much about their partner getting attention from others that can potentially break the relationship.
Other interpretations could include the negative reinforcement getting done to encourage the partner to “not let their appearance go.” If someone always feels insecure about their weight, their clothes, or other aspects of their appearance, having a close loved one carry on about these concerns makes them seem larger than life, so it becomes even more divisive.
Yet another opinion is that when a partner or close loved one reinforces a negative body image, this gets done to make them feel more needed.
For example, if a man feels his looks or his body is inadequate, he may seek acceptance and reassurance from his other half. As you might imagine, this assigns an essential role to the partner by boosting his morale and self-esteem.
When our mind processes all the information used in setting beauty standards, it often uses a combination of the feedback that others provide, as well as the way we feel about ourselves in developing our body image.
If we take risky, unhealthy, or potentially dangerous steps to improve our looks, it could come with significant health risks, if not mindful.
Taking A Healthy Approach to Change Your Thoughts And Habits
It should come as no surprise that the subject of body image is a multifaceted and complicated issue, no matter who you talk to about the topic.
Everyone has an opinion about how they look and feel about their body. And the chances are good that nearly everyone you speak to can quickly tell you at least one thing they don’t like about their appearance off the top of their head.
If you aren’t convinced, all you need to do is browse a gossip site. Even the most successful and celebrities are happy to boast about their lip fillers, their latest tattoo, or the diet they followed to lose fifteen kilos.
You would think with all of the money, fame, awards, and accolades they receive from the adoring public, this would be enough to make them feel happy, fulfilled, and at peace with themselves, but often it is not.
This desire is proof that even those considered to be at the top of their game also struggle with body image, making it a common theme for nearly everyone these days.
Instead of searching for outside forces to give us a higher sense of self-worth and satisfaction, perhaps it would be beneficial to all of us to turn inwards and search for ways to live a happier, more fulfilling life.
Also, taking steps to take better care of our bodies with improved nutrition, proper hydration, and enough exercise to work our muscles helps develop a healthier constitution, building our strength and focusing on other aspects of our life that make it more enjoyable and fulfilling.
Move From Self Hatred To Self Acceptance
There are so many advantages of accepting yourself and your body over hating it.
It’s the one thing you have to carry you through life, so it behooves you to take care of both your mental and physical health to the best of your abilities.
While this isn’t to say that you can’t strive to make improvements to improve your sense of self-worth and self-image, the kinder you are to yourself, the better.
Here are some of the most significant advantages of practising self-love over self-hate:
What Others Think Isn’t As Important – When you’re feeling confident and comfortable in your skin, what others say or think of you become much less critical. With this comes the freedom to make decisions based on what you feel is best for you, instead of what you interpret what others will think of your choice.
You’re Ready To Face New Challenges – If you’re feeling positive about yourself and your life, new challenges don’t feel as unwelcome, overwhelming, or scary. No matter whether you’re thinking about travelling, enrolling for classes, or joining a local interest group, the excitement of learning or experiencing new things allows you to focus less on these things instead of dwelling on less essential or self-centred matters.
You Feel Happier – No one is perfect. And beauty is fleeting and skin deep. Instead of focusing on the things in life, or parts of your body you don’t like, share your gifts and talents with others. Depending on your personality and skills, you might volunteer to help others. And while you’re at it, you might also grow your circle of friends who are supportive, fun, and like-minded.
You’ll Become Less Critical Of Others – Another benefit of loving yourself is that when you do so, you become more understanding and less critical of others. It’s always important to remember that everyone is going through their own battles, thus showing compassion and kindness is still a best practice.
Getting Help With Body Image Issues
If you struggle with severe body image issues or eating disorders, and you need help in dealing with them, seeking professional advice from a qualified hypnotherapist can be a lifesaver.
Therapy helps people work through emotions, past events, and potential triggers that can result in unhealthy responses or patterns.
In many cases, treatments, including hypnotherapy, are advantageous for accessing deeply rooted experiences that contribute to feelings of low self-worth, body hatred, or low self-esteem.
Only by uncovering the deep-seated issues that drive us to feel bad about ourselves can we begin the self-healing process.
Once underway, you’ll start to see yourself and your life in an entirely new and brilliant light.