This is a continuation from last week’s post. As a reminder, we had a local high school student contact the office in hopes of getting some input into a school project. The project is focused around sexuality and body image and last week I posted half of the questions and responses. Here are the remaining questions and answers. Glad to see the interest in the field and so many though provoking questions!
1. How does porn negatively affect body image for both males and females?
The pornography industry is a piece of media that suggests men and women should look a certain way. It can lead men to believe they are supposed to look a certain way and have a certain penis size because what is what the pornography actors look like. It can also lead many men to expect that women should be petite with large breasts. This can also give a really unrealistic idea of what sexual intimacy looks like.
2. Do you think that body image issues and sexual problems can lead to mental illnesses?
Absolutely. Having a negative body image can contribute to anxiety disorders and depressive disorders. Negative body image is a major component of body dysmorphic disorder and also eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
Having problems sexually can also contribute to anxiety and depressive disorders depending on what those sexual problems may be.
3. What would be the best way to get both genders to feel confident in their own bodies?
There is no one size fits all when dealing with body image issues. There are many theoretical approaches in psychology and depending on what theory you practice from, therapists will have different ways of working with body image issues. Most clinicians also take into account the individuality of the client.
With that being said, for some individuals it can be helpful to redirect their attention to the function of their body and what it can do, rather than appearance. For example, if the individual is involved in sports it might be helpful to look at the strength and endurance their body has and how it lets them perform in that activity.