You only have one body and it is not going to stay the same. Time takes a toll on all of us and there is no such thing as a perfect body. It is important to have a positive body image, because that’s what you’re stuck with. Now scientists from the University of Waterloo found that relationships also affect the way we feel about our bodies.
The problem of body image is especially big in women. Men seem to be more relaxed when it comes to the way they look. They also are not under so much societal pressure when it comes to their image. Scientists wanted to see what shapes body image in women and therefore they asked a group of young women to indicate the way they perceive their bodies. Participants of the study also had to describe the way their body image changes depending on the social circle they are in – how they view themselves when they are with family members, friends, coworkers and such.
Unsurprisingly, scientists found that the body image does depend on the social context. For example, when a young woman is surrounded by people who are preoccupied with their appearance she is more likely to be self-conscious about her body. There is also an issue of size – big contrasts in the body size do make women think about their bodies more negatively in some cases. Scientists say that this is a big issue, especially among young women, who are often into fashion, looks and social media. Previous researches have shown that a positive body image improves mental health outcomes and contributes to a better quality of life.
Those young women that surrounded themselves with people who were more accepting of their body, less body preoccupied, and more similar in size to them, were feeling better. It is very important, because a negative body image is a huge risk factor for eating disorders, which are absolutely lethal. In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health condition.
Allison Kelly, senior author of the study, said: “We are trying to help people give thought to the different people they are interacting with and how other people may affect the way they feel towards themselves. The findings also suggest that our qualities and behaviours could have an impact on the body image of the people around us.”
It is always good to wish to improve yourself, but that wish has to be based in health. Fitness is great, but, again, it has to be pursued in a healthy way. And even if you need to lose a few kilograms, you have to be able to love yourself through that process. If you think you’re suffering from a bad body image, surround yourself with positive people that make you feel accepted. And consider therapy – it is always a good idea.
Source: University of Waterloo