Body image can be a big deal in our culture. The standards for what counts as beautiful and attractive are often set for us by the media and the fashion industry. And they can be impossibly high and unforgiving. This leaves many of us with a terrible sense of being somehow deficient, of not measuring up to expectations.
But being comfortable in our own skin and feeling accepted for who we are is of great importance for our well-being, both physically and emotionally. It is an essential element of self-confidence and self-care.
Having a Negative Body Image
Can Be a Major Obstacle for a Healthy Lifestyle
If we consider our body as a valuable part of our being, we will be more motivated to keep it healthy and fit. On the other hand, if we perceive our physical appearance as flawed and undesirable, we will be more inclined to succumb to our negative thoughts and neglect ourselves even further.
I know plenty of stories where some of my clients could not get beyond the detrimental views they had of themselves. One particularly case of self-loathing by a patient has stayed with me to today. She said, “I can’t remember the last time I looked in the mirror without feeling disgusted.”
Unfortunately, she’s not alone. People of all ages, shapes, sizes, races, cultures and genders have less than a perfect image of themselves. Our diversity of physical appearances is a natural phenomenon that should be celebrated, but somehow it is not always embraced.
While we all should strive for optimal health, we also need to understand that our physical well-being is always a work in progress. When we are young, we may feel invincible and act like our body can tolerate almost any abuse. That changes over time. When we suffer from illnesses or injuries, we rely on our body’s ability to heal itself. When we grow older, we need to accept our inevitable decline and learn how to cope with our age-related limitations.
At every stage in life and in every condition, our body deserves to be loved and cared for. Whether we struggle with weight issues, diseases, injuries, age-related decline or other handicaps, treating our own body with kindness and respect is always extremely important for the healing process. Overly critical attitudes can only add unnecessarily to the damage.