Have you ever wondered why our society is so obsessed with weight management? Again, do you ask yourself what’s wrong with being too skinny or too plumped up? So, what is the relationship between body image and weight management? Well, if that’s the case, let us explain.
Unlike in the past decades, people have become so much conscious about how much they weigh and their general appearance. Sometimes you may wonder where this habit came from, and it is obvious to say that social media has contributed to this. The rise of modern technology has affected how people view their bodies. But to understand what this post is all about, it’s important to ask ourselves to understand some basic concepts.
Body image can be defined as how you view your body based on your size and shape. It also involves how much you like or hate some features in your body. How people view their bodies is usually influenced by culture, society, and social media platforms. For you to love yourself, you must first learn how to appreciate and love your body regardless of size, shape, or skin color. This article primarily addresses how body image perception is linked to weight and its management. After going through it, you will learn a few tips that will help improve your mental status so that you can relate well to your body. So, shall we?
What is the relationship between body image and weight management? Factors That Influence Body Image
One thing you should know is that body image is highly influenced by many factors, which can either be internal or external. These factors can occur independently or be correlated with other psychological, environmental, emotional, and physical factors. Below is a list of factors that influence how you view your body.
1. Social media
According to Google, there are about 4.48 billion social media users globally. This number was 3.69 billion in 2020, meaning that the number of people joining these platforms is many. Because social media helps us stay connected to our friends and families, it highly encourages comparison. No one enjoys being compared to other people, and this is where the body image comes from. Anytime you scroll through social media, you’ll come across various types of people with different body shapes and sizes.
Most of the models online have the “ideal” body that society has taught us is perfect. Since social media are image-based, most of the time people like comparing themselves with other people’s bodies and this leads to frustrations. If you watch, you’ll notice that most people on social media show only the best parts of their bodies. They also try as much as possible not to showcase their low moments, lying to people that life is full of happiness 24/7. Again, the use of filters and high editing tools has made so much fake look real on these platforms. From the moment you put these fake images and body goals in your head, images of self-hate, negative emotions, anxiety, and guilt attack you. In the end, you lose confidence and you stop living your normal self.
2. Early Childhood Life
How a child is raised matters a lot. Things that a child grows seeing and hearing can later affect how they perceive their bodies. For example, if a child lives around people who prefer skinny body standards, that child will grow knowing that being skinny is the societal standard of a good body, and vice versa is also true.
Going through trauma, abuse, body shaming and bullying can also change people’s perception of their bodies, even in adulthood. This, in return, distorts the mind, leading to body dissatisfaction and poor self-image. How parents talk to their children about their genetic makeup, skin color, shape and size also can cause permanent low self-esteem and confidence in their bodies.
3. Social Comparison
This is an important aspect that contributes to how we see our bodies. Every culture has a different standard of beauty and this is one thing most people don’t know. For instance, in some cultures, being dark and overweight is beauty, while in other cultures it may not be acceptable.
We have cultures that appreciate freckles on the face as a sign of beauty, while others see it as a deformity. Since we all come from different historical and cultural backgrounds, it’s good to first learn what is accepted in our societies. This is because it can help many people stop comparing themselves with people belonging to different societies.
Repeated episodes of comparing yourself with other people trigger an internal dialogue that will always lead you to depression. Sometimes we are told we are what we consume and therefore if the only thing you consume online is body images, you will never feel satisfied with the way you look. Even if you look good, your brain will always find a fault that does not exist, just to make you feel negative about your body. In the end, you end up covering body parts you feel are not perfect, which then reduces your self-worth and general well-being as a person. We know this condition as Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
Body Image and Weight
Body image concerns affect many people, particularly the younger generation. It is also more common in women than in men, but this does not mean men don’t have their body struggles as well. Having dissatisfaction with our bodies makes people think that losing weight will make the situation better. This explains why even underweight people, especially women, still over-exercise to lose weight. Women naturally are made in such a way that they need a layer of fat. This fat is very critical in:
👉🏻 Fertility and the art of breastfeeding
👉🏻 For healthy skin, eyes, hair, teeth, and general appearance
👉🏻 Prevention of osteoporosis and other related conditions.
Studies show that drastic weight loss or gain can cause severe health problems later in life, therefore it’s never a good idea to do it. The problems associated with poor body perception are:
- Extreme dieting
- Poor mental status and low self-esteem.
- Eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, a condition characterized by abnormally low weight because of the fear of gaining weight and distorting body image. Bulimia Nervosa is a serious, life-threatening disorder that makes people binge secretly. Consuming large amounts of food makes them lose control of their bad eating habits. As a result, they purge, inducing vomiting to get rid of extra calories.
Poor eating disorders and body perceptions can make people isolate themselves because of fear of being judged or rejected. This further reduces the general quality of life and pushes many to live a life of pleasing others. Sometimes not eating a balanced diet to avoid gaining weight. This can deny your body some important nutrients and vitamins, leading to malnutrition cases.
Improving your body image and weight management can help improve your quality of life, allowing you to live a more fulfilled life. Accepting your body, the way it is can prevent you from engaging in activities that reduce your positive body perception, confidence, and self-worth. There is no clear rule that measures beauty standards because we are all from different races, genetic compositions, and backgrounds.
Sometimes our body images are defined by the food we eat, our environmental and medical conditions as well. It is good to exercise to be healthy, but becoming obsessed with it can lead you to avoid eating, hence missing essential nutrients.
Sometimes letting go of old habits we have about our bodies may not be a one-day thing, but it’s a journey. Start learning about yourself today. Examine all the causes that led you to your current situation and then address it as a whole. For example, if you grew up hearing that heavy girls are not pretty, just remind yourself that you are pretty, worthy and that there is nothing wrong with you. If you do this often, hearsay will never bother you!
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