Your body image is how you relate to your body…how
you feel inside this container that you have to carry around your soul
or spirit. It has pleasure centers, senses, and physical feelings that
color how you feel inside it.
Studies show that body image accounts as a variable for one
quarter to one third of self-esteem. (Cash, 1997)
If you don’t like your body, it’s
hard to like the person who lives there.
Poor body image comes from many sources:
- Early messages from nuclear family
- Experiences with peers
- The fashion industry, the media, and popular culture or
- Relationships that have cause insecurities
Poor body image leads to fears of rejection, shyness, poor
gender identity (not feeling feminine), lack of sexual fulfillment,
depression, and eating problems.
Women are more aware and concerned about body image than men
are, although men are not immune from it. Appearance is more central
to who women are.
Thinness is glorified in our culture. Society
programs women to base self-worth on physical appearance. We grow up
in a society that stereotypes women according to their looks. In LA
we are all especially sensitive to “lookism” since so much
attention is given to the beauty defined by Hollywood.
From childhood, girls are valued more for their looks
than boys are. Boys are valued for accomplishments more typically. We make
assumptions about other
people’s character, behavior, and worthiness all based on
How does your self-esteem, including how you feel about your
body, determine how you eat?
Learning how to nurture yourself means unlearning self-destructive
messages about your body. If I really like my body and want to treat
it with respect, I will give it what it needs.
If you take in these societal distorted perceptions,
and use them to discount your perception of yourself, you are basing
your self-esteem only on an external standard of appearance. You will
believe you don’t
measure up. Self-esteem problems may worsen with aging, unless we can
form a broader definition of beauty and see that natural aging and inner
glow have just as much to do with appearance as the external standard,
we do injury to ourselves. We need to develop and emphasize other characteristics.
References: Thomas Cash, Ph. D. The Body Image Workbook, 1997