How many of the people that you know are truly happy with their bodies?

Be honest: Are you satisfied with yours? If not, you might have a body image issue.

Body image does not just refer to aspects of our physical appearance, attractiveness, and beauty. It also has to do with the mental picture you have of your own body as well as your thoughts, feelings, judgments, sensations, awareness and behaviour.

Our relationship with our bodies is ever changing – sensitive to changes in mood, environment, and physical experiences – and not usually based on facts. What we perceive of ourselves in the mirror is learned. We view our own physical attractiveness based on what is expected culturally, including from the media, our family, and our peers.

Your relationship with your body does influence your behaviour, self-esteem, and psyche. When we feel bad about our body, the satisfaction level with our own lives decreases. This might cause a myriad of difficulties, which may include our sexuality, careers, and relationships.

How do you shift towards a more healthy and positive view of self?

1. Question Messages Portrayed in the Media

Many of the images of celebrities and models presented in the media have been heavily computer enhanced and airbrushed. Start questioning images depicted in the media and question why you should feel compelled to ‘live up’ to these unrealistic standards of beauty and/or thinness.

2. Recognize Body Misperception

Perhaps you are truly not as ‘fat’ as you think. You might be ‘blind’ to your own figure because of your own distortion of reality. It is important to recognize this misperception and attribute it to the disorder. Judge your size according the opinions of people you already trust until you can trust your new and more accurate self-perceptions.

3. Stop Discriminating

Be conscious of the ways you are mentally discriminating against people who do not fit the norm of what is ‘beautiful’. Work on accepting people of all sizes and shapes. This will help you appreciate your own body.

4. Quit Dieting

Dieting is not only unhealthy but creates mood swings and feelings of hopelessness. Instead of feeling better about yourself, you only lose your self-esteem and energy. If you feel pressure to lose weight, talk to a loved one or seek professional help.

5. Befriend Your Body

Recognize that you do not have to compare yourself to other people. There might be several areas of your body you cannot change. However, you can modify your beliefs and attitudes which influence the way you feel about yourself. Focus on overall health and not size.

A negative body image is a serious problem and has damaging effects on one’s self-esteem. When you can smile back at your reflection in the mirror, you are well on your way to self-love and respect. Love and enjoy the person inside.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Martha Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching. She is a certified sexologist with a Doctorate in Human Sexuality. She provides sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conducts sexual education workshops and speaks at public events. For more, visit www.eroscoaching.com or email drmarthalee@eroscoaching.com.