According to a recent study by Psychology Today magazine, twenty-four percent of women and 17 percent of men say they would give up more than three years of life to be thinner. Yet, similar studies report that half of American women underestimate the size of their bodies.
So, why does America have such a distorted body image? Some fault the media, while for others, skewed body image begins during childhood.
Carolyn Strauss, a plus-size model and author of Specialty Modeling, told SheKnows.com that the biggest danger of a negative body image lies in the power it gives away.
“When someone has a poor body image, she will try to find validation from outside to make her feel better. The next diet, the next fashion fad, the next boyfriend, anything but where she is now. Instead of living in the moment, she may find herself living for ‘when I look better,'” Strauss says. “Remember, the goal of most [commercial] advertising it to make you ‘not okay’ so that, upon using that product, you will become okay.”
When you are continually distracted with physical appearance, it can be physically and emotionally exhausted. To prevent body image distortion, focus on a few healthy solutions.
Talk to someone: If you feel that you’ve become overly preoccupied with your body image to the point where it is adversely affecting your life, talk to a friend or relative. If you feel more comfortable seeking help from a neutral third party, seek a counselor or therapist.
Think positive: Instead of idealizing models and actresses with so-called perfect bodies, look to the powerful, intelligent women in your life. Whether it’s your grandmother or the First Lady, choose positive role models to help take the focus off what’s on the outside.
Quiet the negative voices: If you find yourself silently berating yourself about the way you look in your jeans, counteract that thought with a positive one. Focus on the parts of your body that make you who you are, like your expressive eyes or beautiful smile.
Surround yourself with positive people: If you want to be more positive about your body image, surround yourself with other people who have healthy perspectives. Those friends who talk about how big their thighs are? Probably a bad influence.