Body Image and Self-Esteem

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There is a high percentage of women and girls suffering from lack of self-esteem and body dysmorphia. Facts from ABC News and the Eating Disorder National website describe the following scary statistics. They are that fifty percent of women admitted they participate in dangerous dieting techniques and other weightless ideas that can harm their bodies. Seventy percent of women look in a mirror and hate the reflection that they see. I think about that statistic as I look in the mirror, I critique what I see. Are my eyes too close together? What about the blemishes on my nose? Is my stomach too flabby? I even go as far as saying to myself “I hope you never wear shorts with your legs looking like that.” Do you say these things to yourself?

Women also have these largely inaccurate visions of how we should look. When the average woman is five feet four inches and the average model is five feet eleven inches we are inaccurately portraying ourselves. Also have you seen the campaigns lately especially what dove is doing or the people who refuse to edit their looks like the lovely Zendaya. In the world of airbrushed features and photo-shopped hips we have to think about it differently. Let us reorient our minds. As women we must come together rather than divide over what we think our bodies should look like.

The mental health implications of body image are intrinsically linked to self-esteem. When we look at the thirty to fifty percent of people with eating disorders having an underlying issues with depression we have to figure out why. Eighty nine percent of women have dieted by the time they turn eighteen years old. This percentage is too large to ignore. I have a specific memory of being at work one day and a man saying to me: “Are you sick?” This was because I had been challenged to not wear makeup for a week in a communications class at my college. I participated in it and was sickened by the amount of compliments or questions due to the absence of makeup on my face. Not to mention the freedom from purchasing all this makeup. Women are spending thousands of dollars on their faces each year. So why anyone should be told that they need to change the way that they look is mind boggling to me. Love the skin you are in.

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I remember the first time I started dieting it was with my best friend. We wanted to loose weight to look like the other girls in our class. This is also another statistic that eighty one percent of ten year old girls would like to lose weight. That was me with my best friend at the time. We though that eating just salads and drinking just water would help us lose enough weight to be considered beautiful. The sad part is that I was so invested in it that I began to feel weak. I remember being dizzy in physical education and we praised each other for it. This continued into high school and I was always severely worried about being fat. I would watch my calories and hold my breath so I would not gain weight. I promised myself I would not eat anything when our BMI’s were checked in physical education in front of the entire class. I remember I was 17.2. Which seemed high to me, but was actually closer to being underweight.

Eating disorders come in many forms other than the glamorous bulimia or anorexia. Some people have over eating problems or over working out problems. These are all stemming from a variety of causes. Sometimes women are wanting to look better so they are starving themselves to lose a few pounds to fit in that perfect dress. I remember transitioning was always a trigger for me and the national eating disorder site confirms that. I remember stopping and counting calories as I entered high school as I broke up with a boyfriend, and as I sank into depression. Sometimes women are facing social difficulties like being bullied because of the way that they look. So instead of embracing the difficulties they are shunned for their differences. While reading a lot of journals I noticed that traumatic events like sexual or physical abuse can trigger the need to control something. Some of the forms are triggered by a personality disorder or an underlying psychological disorder.

Control is something that many people with eating disorders are trying to gain. Yet if we examine the things that we can control hopefully that can change some of the behaviors. You can control your thoughts and feelings. You can control your own opinions. You can control who you spend your time with, and what you spend your life doing. Studies on eating disorders show that it impacts every facet of your life. It can become something out of control if it is lost and impact various parts of your health. You can regain control by understanding the various therapeutic options that are available to you. If you are over eating perhaps finding a different way to channel your feelings and if you are under eating transforming the way you look at your caloric intake as nutrition and not a bad thing.

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Most importantly it is important to notice that you are not defined by how you look, but rather the outpouring of your heart. The image that we try to project on the outside is not a perfect picture at all. We are caught up in a fallen world with people trying to pull us in all different directions, yet the one that catches your heart is the one that will set you free. To maintain health we must have the approach of balancing. We balance what we eat with how much exercise we are capable of doing a day.


Categories: body, body image, Christianity, Dialectal Therapy, eating disorders, lifestyle, mental health, UncategorizedTags: , , , , , , ,

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