Nearly everyone feels insecure about their bodies at some point in their lives. While you may feel you are too fat, someone else may be feeling they are underweight. Or perhaps you have too little hair – or too much? The reasons why people feel insecure about their bodies are as varied as there are, well, people.
Today’s society has almost come to expect a perfect human being, what with television and the movies. From a very early age kids are bombarded with media advertising on TV, in magazines and now the internet, that practically tells them to look like models and film stars, and it is not surprising that many grown-ups (and the kids of course) feel insecure about their bodies.
But nature isn’t like an assembly line, which churns out perfect-looking exact copies of products. What sort of body you have is determined, to a large extent, by your genes; and until plastic surgery gets down to those, the perfect human being will always be a pipe dream!
Learning to Love Your Body
The psychologists of course tell us to love our bodies and accept who we are. Easier said than done! Just when you think you are well on the road to accepting yourself and getting adjusted life throws some new obstacle your way. You take up a new job and the reactions from your new workmates may be negative and have to be “taken on board”. Or maybe you watched a new movie with your loved one and the next thing you know, your partner has a crush on Mel Gibson or Jane Fonda – or whatever the “hottest” actor or actress may be at that moment.
An admittedly immature little flip, you may tell yourself, but at a deep psychological level your partner’s feelings about another man or woman leaves you asking questions about your looks, or your figure, or your personality – the list is endless. And it is not only your partners and spouses either: when it comes to feelings about your body, even strangers count! Learning to love your body begins by letting go of those socially imposed ideals that are supposed to make the “perfect” human being.
Taking Action to Reverse a Negative Body Image
But of course you can’t go through life hating your figure or your looks – or any insecurity you have about your body. Hard as it may be, you have to take steps to get over your insecurity and negative feelings. Insecurity breeds all forms of other bad emotions: jealousy, anger and depression are just a few of those. This makes the effort to overcome your body insecurity or negative body image all the more important. These “sidekicks” of a negative body image can cause disease in some cases: depression can cause heart problems or mental disorders for example.
Some things about your body you may not be able to change – or perhaps you can but will then pay a price. A good example is plastic surgery. While it may make you feel good about yourself if you had a facelift for example, you may have to put up with disapproving reactions from some people around you. But other aspects of your negative body image can be tackled if you are ready to invest some effort and the willpower to persist in the face of setbacks, skepticism from those around you, even ridicule in some cases.
If you are overweight for example, feeling bad about it is inevitable, but you can do something about the problem, through exercise and making changes to your eating habits. But you need to begin by learning to redeem your self-esteem and dealing with any negative reactions from those around you – the jokes, stares or remarks that may be thrown at you.
Setting an Achievable Expectation
The other thing to watch out for when you begin a program to tackle your body insecurities is to have realistic expectations. If you are already 120 kilograms it would be unrealistic to expect to trim down to fashion model size! This applies to any negative body image you are tackling: looks, body shape, hair, etc. Avoid aiming for an outcome that is unrealistic and unachievable.
What you can expect to achieve will depend on many factors, not least your tenacity and will to succeed. But other factors may limit your ability to achieve the desired result: money, time and responsibilities. You may need the services of a gym for example but be limited by money or responsibilities at home. This will not completely prevent you from embarking on an exercise program, but the results you get may not be the same as when you have a fitness instructor at a gym.
Another problem could be that you have a standard or “role model” you are aspiring to look like. But if your aspiration is to look like your favorite movie star it might help you to consider the time and money that go into achieving that look that the film companies put into the effort. Without all that make-up and cosmetics the movie star’s looks would probably be average in some cases.
A Professional Opinion May Work for You
For some insecurities or negative body image, your looks for example, it may help to seek a professional opinion. Your hairdresser will usually know what hairstyle suits you best, but you may have to ask first. If you went to a hairdresser and asked for a particular hairstyle that looked “hot” on someone else’s head, that is the hairstyle they will give you. Courtesy and good business sense will prevent them from telling you otherwise. Taking a professional opinion about your looks may in fact cost you nothing. The problem is that you may have a “standard” you are striving to achieve and you will want to “design” your body “your way”.
Ask your fitness trainer what you can expect to achieve through a training program. Or your beautician what will work best for you. If you buy your clothes from a boutique seek the opinion of the sales person as to what looks good on you. This means you give up trying to “tailor” your expectations. You may think you can get as fit as Rambo, but your fitness instructor will usually know if you can or not. Or perhaps you want your beautician to give you the Beyonce look, but she will probably know better.
A negative body image is an affliction that we are all prone to, some more so than others. Due to the effect of advertising and media exposure, many try to attain that perfect figure or look such as we see in the movies and on TV. This illusion leads many to get these negative self-images about their bodies. Tackling the problem begins with recognizing that you have a negative body image in the first place and then taking action to reclaim your positive self-image and esteem. If your negative body image is the kind that can benefit from an expert’s opinion then seek the opinion of the professional, your beautician for example. Avoid locking yourself in a closet of unachievable expectations, spurred on by the media and the movies.
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