What do you think you look like? Body image is the mental representation you create, but it may or may not bear any relation to how others actually see you. Body image is subject to all kinds of distortion from early experiences, attitudes of our parents, internal elements like our emotions and moods, and much more. Nevertheless, your mental image of you strongly influences behavior. Preoccupation with, and distortions of, body image are widespread among American women (and, to a lesser extent, among males). This mental image is a driving force in eating disorders, not to mention mood conditions like severe anxiety and even depression. In the midst of this angst, we forget that the body has utility; bodies get us from point A to point B, after all. Yet we are still mired in a world where physical looks rule the day. To put your body image back into perspective, start by curbing your use of social media, a place where you are constantly reminded of looks and image.
What Is Body Image?
Can You Learn to Love Your Body?
Having a poor sense of body image can affect a person in many ways, including performance in academics or career, relationship satisfaction, and even overall quality of life. In extreme cases, a person may suffer body dysmorphic disorder, where he or she imagines a physical defect. Often the person zeroes in on a specific area like the nose, breasts, legs, or whatever body part. Meanwhile, the perceived flaw is not even noticeable to others. People who suffer from this severe disorder obsess over the flaw to a point of dysfunction, with some even visiting the cosmetic surgeon again and again.