There are millions of people who struggle with their body image every day. Some people are never happy with how they look. Others go back and forth between liking how they look, and wishing they looked entirely different.
So what exactly leads to someone thinking about themselves this way? What shapes our opinions on our bodies, and why do these things have such a big impact on us?
It turns out that there are many factors that contribute to how you see yourself, and some of those things lie far beyond the mirror. Here are 10 everyday things that constantly impact the way you view yourself.
People who have a negative body image will often start dieting to get their body to look the way they want. However, dieting can leave you with an even worse body image than you originally had.
There are several reasons why dieting can have a negative impact on body image. For starters, if you are dieting and you don’t achieve the results you want right away, you can become deeply discouraged. This discouragement can lead to negative thoughts regarding your body image and self-worth. These negative thoughts can then lead to negative behaviors such as restrictive dieting, overexercising, and purging.
It’s important to pay attention to your diet, but you don’t need to participate in restrictive dieting to achieve the results you want. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other nutrients (and isn’t restrictive) can help improve your physical and mental health. If your physical and mental health improves, then your body image may improve, too.
Your Exercise Routine
Similarly, your exercise routine can contribute to how you view yourself. A common thing people do when they aren’t happy with their appearance is commit to an exercise program. However, if they don’t get the results they desire quickly, they can spiral into an unhealthy pattern and overexercise.
An important thing to remember here is that it will take a bit to get the results you desire from exercising. Being patient and setting realistic expectations is key. If you aren’t sure where to being with exercising, look for a beginner program at your local gym. Research also shows that even just 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day can help boost your body image, so if you don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to exercise, you can start small.
One group of people who may not have a ton of time to exercise is parents. They may be busy working, or watching their children. If you’re a parent who needs to carve some time out for exercising, and you watch your children every day, see if there are daycares you can drop your child off at for an hour or so. You can look up “daycare and preschool near me” and see what your options are. This strategy could help parents who usually don’t have time for exercise to finally make that time for themselves.
Your Mental Health
Your mental health is a huge factor when talking about how you view yourself. Certain mental health conditions, like depression, can lead to you having a poor image of yourself. This can also lead to the development of body dysmorphia and eating disorders.
Mental health and body image often go hand-in-hand, so if one is negative, the other may be negative, too. There are support services available for those who wish to talk about their mental health. Talking about it could help you find relief and determine what your next step should be.
Some people may choose to escape their feelings about themselves through things like drugs and alcohol. Studies show that negative self image is linked to increased tobacco and alcohol use. If you or someone you know is coping with their feelings about their self image through these means, it’s important to take action. Whether that’s through an alcohol intervention, or another form of intervention, is up to those involved.
Your Self Esteem
Self esteem and self respect are often interchanged in conversation. Self esteem defined as how confident you feel in yourself and your abilities. If you view your body in a negative way, it could have a serious impact on your self esteem.
Some people try to boost their self esteem by getting cosmetic procedures done. These procedures can include things like hair replacement, oral surgery, and botox injections. These fixes may only be a temporary boost for your self esteem, and may also be hard to maintain. For example, botox results can last between three and six months. After that, more treatment sessions are recommended.
These kinds of procedures could provide a temporary fix, but at the end of the day, low self esteem is tied to the state of your mental health. Your mental health must be taken care of if you truly want to improve your self esteem.
Something small you can do try and boost your self esteem right away is write down 10 things you like about yourself. These can be things about your appearance, your personality, your career etc. Writing these things down could give you a fresh perspective of yourself.
Your Social Media Usage
There are numerous articles and studies out on how social media impacts your body image.
Research shows that looking at images of people who seem to achieve unattainable beauty standards online can lower our self esteem and negatively impact body image. Seeing how many people interact with these images can also do some damage. For instance, if a certain picture gets a lot of comments and likes, it can make someone else online feel as though they are not enough if they don’t get that level of interaction on their photos.
Social media can also provide platforms where people can talk negatively about one another. There are people who will sit behind a computer screen and attack complete strangers online, and at times, these people can attack someone’s looks. This could lead to people viewing themselves as less.
A quick way to curb this is to limit the time you spend on social media. Spend less time online, and more time doing the things you love offline. Also, weeding out who you’re friends with online can help. If your online community is filled with people who make you feel like a lesser person, it’s best for you to leave the community or remove said people.
Your Overall Media Consumption
It’s not just social media that can lead to you having a poor image of yourself. Your overall media consumption could subconsciously be influencing the way you see yourself.
In this case, media can be defined as movies, television shows, magazines, newspapers, advertisements, video games, etc. Every day, we are bombarded with images of what the “perfect” person should look like. This is a staple in the advertising world, whether companies are trying to sell diamonds or marble. They always show someone who, to them, represents the “perfect” person.
If you don’t look like this person, your self worth could plummet. The “perfect” person gets all the good things on TV and in the movies, right? So if you don’t look like them, have the same things they do, or live a similar lifestyle, then you tend to think that you’re not worthy of the same things they are.
This is simply not true. These people are not real, and therefore don’t have to abide by realistic expectations. Don’t take what you see in advertisements and in the media at face value. Take it all with a grain of salt. Once you understand why people are being presented in a specific way in the public eye, things will really start to make sense.
This may not be easy to talk about, but your spouse could be impacting your body image. Spouses are supposed to support and respect you, and you may have a spouse that does just that.
However, there are some people who have spouses that criticize their body, which can lead to them having a negative body image. If this kind of behavior is impacting your well-being, then talk to your spouse. Have an open and honest conversation about how their comments are impacting you. If they respond poorly and continue with this behavior, then it may be time to take time for yourself and start healing. Whether it’s taking some time away, or even divorcing your spouse, you have to do what you have to do to start repairing your self esteem.
Your Family And Friends
Much like the previous situation, it can be hard to discuss if your family and friends are contributing to your negative self image. They’re supposed to be the ones who build you up and support you. However, they could be doing or saying things that subconsciously knock your self worth down a peg.
Are they constantly making jokes aimed at you? Are they negatively critiquing people who look similar to you, and you can’t help but notice? Are they outright calling you out and making you feel like less of a person?
If there are toxic people in your life, you must consider releasing them from your circle of confidants. Constantly being around people who talk down to you, or constantly make you feel bad about your appearance, can have a tremendous impact on the way you look at yourself. Try talking to them first and explaining your side of the situation. If you can’t come to a place of respect and trust with them, then you know it’s time to take time away from them and start focusing on you.
Believe it or not, your career could also be impacting the way you view yourself. According to a recent survey, people who consider themselves to be successful are more likely to say that their physical appearance is important to them. The survey also found that 40% of respondents said they were moderately proud of their appearance, and it was an even split (25% each) between people who said they were only slightly proud of their appearance or not at all proud of their body.
The pride you take in your appearance could have a big impact on how successful you are in your career, and vice versa. If you’re seeing people who have the same career path as you becoming increasingly successful, you could start to wonder why you aren’t achieving that same level of success. If you don’t look like these people, you could start assuming that it has something to do with your appearance.
Evaluate where you at in your career, and determine if it’s helping or hindering the way you view yourself. If you’re finding that it’s mostly hindering you, then it’s time to think about what your next career step should be.
The culture we choose to surround ourselves with is also a contributing factor to how we view our bodies.
Culture can either lead you to have a negative view of your body or a positive one. It all depends on which culture and traditions you decide to be part of. Certain cultures may emphasize the importance of appearance, and if someone within that culture does not fit within the desired appearance, it can cause them to become unhappy with their body.
Instead of focusing on the negative things that may make you look down on yourself within your culture, try to focus on the positive aspects instead. You could find that by shifting your focus, you could change your whole view of yourself.
At the end of the day, it’s important to look within yourself and at your surroundings to determine what’s contributing to negative thoughts about yourself. It’s also important to evaluate whether you truly need those things in your life. If these things are making you feel bad about yourself, are they really worth it?
There is no universal law that states how you determine your self worth. However, a good place to start is to simply surround yourself with the things that truly make you happy.