You are supposed to love your body because it makes you who you are but so many people don’t feel that way, especially teenagers. People with negative body image have a greater likelihood of developing an eating disorder and are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and obsessions with weight loss.
Positive body image is a clear and true perception of your shape seeing your body as it really is. Body positivity involves feeling comfortable and confident in your body, accepting your natural body shape and size, and recognizing that physical appearance says very little about one’s character and value as a person.
Body image concerns often begin at a young age and endure throughout life. By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. Furthermore, over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives. It is important to note that the age of onset differs depending on the individual, and these body image concerns may start younger, or never come up at all.
As with eating disorders, body image concerns can affect us all. While all ages, genders, and races are equally at risk for body image issues, there are traditionally different triggers and appearance-related pressures depending on one’s gender. In our Western culture, girls often feel pressure to succumb to the societal appearance-ideal, whereas boys are often faced with social pressures to be lean and muscular. The key to developing a positive body image is to recognize and respect our natural shape and learn to overpower those negative thoughts and feelings with positive, affirming, and accepting ones.