POSITIVE BODY IMAGE: NEED OF THE HOUR

Body image refers to positive or negative attitude towards self.  Due to the increasing effect of globalization, there has been an increasing focus on the way we look and the media reinforces our beliefs about our body image.  The social importance given to our body image , has made a lot of men and women conscious about the way they look and if they fail to look a particular way make them feel dissatisfied. Dissatisfaction with their bodies lead to a negative body image.

Women experience a greater level of body dissatisfaction as compared to men since the pressure to look a particular way is greater on women. The increasing number of beauty clinics for modern Indian men and women prove that there has been an obsession with appearance.

Body dissatisfaction is no longer limited to adolescents. It is equally common among adults. However dissatisfaction with the body starts at adolescence.  Body image is confused with personality and self worth. When importance is given to the way one looks over personality, it can lead to a depressed state of mind, anxiety and eating disorders.  A lot of people engage in dangerous practices to control weight such as vomiting, laxative abuse, vomiting, smoking, use of steroids etc.

Self-Esteem

Studies show a positive relationship between self esteem and body image. A high self esteem would lead to a positive body image and vice versa.

There is an intolerance of body diversity in our culture and being thin is associated with hard work, success, strength and discipline while being overweight is often associated with laziness, and lack of will power.

Ways to maintain a positive body image:

Self-Acceptance: It is important to accept the way one looks. Replace negative self judgement with positive ones. Positive self affirmations such as “I love my body” “I am pretty/handsome” can work a lot in changing the perceptions about our body.  Accepting the way, we look would lead to a positive perception about oneself.

Stop Comparisons: It is very important to stop comparing the way we look to others and also to the media images of models shown on television. Media shows perfect images of models which are mostly photo shopped. Therefore, the next time you see an image, it is important to question its originality. There is no “perfect” look and hence it is futile to pray for one.

Lead a purposeful life: Leading a purposeful life is important since it is more fulfilling and takes the mind away from obsessing over looks. Finding out the purpose of your life would keep your mind occupied with fulfilling that purpose and hence would give no time for futile thoughts.

Stay away from offending media : It is quite important to stay away from negative media which reinforces negative body image such as fashion magazines and the like which tries to make one feel inadequate about self. Therefore, it’s important to choose the kind of media you are viewing. There are a lot of positive media out there such as educational sites, travel etc. Visiting and spending time with such media would help in building knowledge and personality.

Eat a balanced diet.; It is important to eat the right diet and stay away from junk. Avoid dieting and focus on a healthy diet. This would keep the body healthy.

Appreciate the person you are: Focus on the person you are. Try to analyze the positive traits about your personality and the good things you have. This can lead to a healthy self esteem and would then directly influence the body image.

Build a support system: Building a positive support system is important. Surround yourself with people who would have a positive influence upon you. They would appreciate you for what you are and also fill your mind with positive ideas. Family and friends keep our mind healthy and motivate us to become the best versions of ourselves.

MEDITATION

Practice meditation: Meditation can help you focus on the inner life and rely on inner wisdom to lead a life of inner joy and harmony.

Practice self care: Taking care of your body such as giving yourself a massage or a warm soothing bath would help you fall in love with yourself all over again.

Focus on the things you can change: Instead of focusing on the parts of the body you cannot change, it is good to focus on the things you a such as toning your body and then celebrate the change.

Practice Gratitude: It is important to practice gratitude everyday and be thankful for the things you have than cribbing about things you do not have.

These easy steps would help you in building a positive image and help you in lading a good life.

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Psychologist Shyamolima Datta

Shyamolima Datta is a Counselling Psychologist . She finished B.A(honours) and Masters in Psychology with specialization in Clinical Psychology from Delhi University and Jamia Millia Islamia University respectively along with an advanced diploma in Counselling Psychology, Body image among adolescents is an important topic of research where she has researched on Body Image and its relationship to anxiety and depression among adolescent girls"She follows the "humanistic approach" for therapy where "unconditional positive regard" is crucial to bring a lasting change in a person's mental setup. Cognitive behaviour therapy is also used by her to treat depression , phobia and the like.Counselling the highly sensitive and introverts ,its her forte as she has dealt with them using psychotherapy given by Carl Jung, to come out of their shell and face the world keeping their personality intact .

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