So many people are incredibly hard on themselves when it comes to appearance. This often becomes an issue in adolescence or even pre-adolescence and can be a lasting issue well into adulthood. It is so sad that society places so much emphasis on appearance because the images we see plastered across magazines and other medias have twisted public perception of what beauty truly is. It is also really sad that people are willing to downplay and disregard their inner beauty all because they don’t have thigh gap or whatever the latest beauty trend is.
While it was originally thought that it was mostly females who were affected by body image issues that understanding has changed over the past several years. Boys and men can be just as impacted as girls and women when it comes to insecurities in physical appearance. Society has created some pretty far-fetched, if not unrealistic ideals of what both men and women should attain to look like. Since this ideal is not achievable or sustainable for many members of society, it can wreak havoc on our mental well-being. At the best, a negative body image might lead to feelings of sadness or self-dislike. At its worst, a negative body image can contribute to clinical disorders such as depression and body dysmorphic disorder.
I truly believe that everyone has something beautiful about themselves, it is just a matter of recognizing it. While someone who has a negative body image might not take compliments seriously, I will sometimes ask clients to ask trusted friends or families for input on what they appreciate about their appearance. It can also be helpful for clients to try and see their body for its uses and how it functions, rather than focus on its appearance. I also ask clients to try and step back away from the physical and instead shift our attention to personality traits. How many of you are friends with someone because of how they look? We usually don’t choose people to be in our lives because they look a certain way, but usually because of who they are. This discussion can take the spotlight off of our physical appearance and redirect to all of the awesome things we have to offer character wise. I have an exercise I would like to share, but I am going to save it for next week!