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
- Early messages from
- Experiences with
- The fashion industry,
the media, and popular culture or fat phobia
- 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
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 appearance.
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
Thomas Cash, Ph. D. The Body Image Workbook,