The Impact of Body Image in Our Society and Why It Should Be Addressed

22 March 2019
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The Impact of Body Image in Our Society and Why It Should Be Addressed

Everyone wants to look good and pleasant in the eyes of others. Moreover, many people also think that pretty women and handsome men are always better than average Joes. Unfortunately, this seems to be the case. For one, there are instances where physically-attractive individuals are treated better than those who are not.

More saddening is the fact that this is happening on a normal basis. Nowadays, more and more people seem to pay more attention to their looks above everything else. On one hand, it is not really a bad thing to take care of your appearance. However, there are some who take it seriously; it already compromises their overall health.

Just how serious this issue is? What usually triggers these perceptions toward body image? More importantly, are there ways to reverse the negative impression of body image into positive ones?

What is body image?

Body image refers to a person’s attitude or perception of their overall look. Moreover, it also affects how they see themselves in the mirror, how they think they look in the eyes of other people, and a general feeling about how they look.

Everyone thinks differently about their body and how they look in general. Regardless, their perception of their overall body image can greatly affect their self-esteem and even how they perceive the world around them. Some have a healthy perception of their body, while some do not due to influencing factors.

A person’s self-esteem mostly depends on his perception of body image. A person with high self-esteem feels good about herself despite her imperfections. It is the ability to see beyond her looks. She believes that she is capable of achieving her dreams that won’t necessarily depend on how she looks.

However, telling yourself that you look beautiful the way you are is easier said than done. At some point, many people may say something is off with how they look. As a result, you might have second thoughts whether you look funny in the eyes of other people, or even doubt your own abilities.

Factors affecting body image

There are many factors that can greatly affect how we perceive our overall appearance. Here are some factors can determine our body image and self-esteem.

  1. Age

At a young age, many kids may not be keen on their overall appearance yet. But as they grow into adolescence, children start to get conscious with their looks. This is most likely because of what they see from others.

  1. Puberty and gender

As children transition into their teenage years and then into adulthood, it is also the time where they pay attention to their appearance. They mostly get their “inspiration” from social media and other media channels. This is also the time where they aim to fit in with their peers and fear being left out.

  1. Societal factors

While females are found to be more prone to body image issues, men are also just as socially-pressured as females. One possible reason is that males often are non-expressive with their feelings. In addition, males are often told to look strong so they can achieve what they want and be more attractive to the opposite sex.

Meanwhile, a person’s body weight and physical deformities can also lead to poor body image. It can further be fueled if the person is bullied all her life because of how she looks.

  1. Media

Media plays a major role in influencing people into believing what they should do to be socially acceptable. However, it can also lead to poor body image because people portrayed in media seem to be flawless and too perfect. In effect, many people develop low self-esteem and often think they are social failures.

Media also presents beauty and health and fitness industries as everyone’s “life savers”. They often tell you to use this or do that so you will look better and feel more confident about yourself. While making yourself feel and look good is not entirely a bad thing, a lot of people may tend to overdo it, compromising their health in the process.  

  1. Friends and family

Loved ones can also affect a person’s body image. Family members and their so-called friends may tend to criticize a person’s appearance apparently “out of love and concern”. But sometimes, it can actually do more harm than good.

How body image affects a person’s self-esteem

As mentioned, a person’s body image can greatly influence his or her self-esteem. A person with a healthy body image is able to accept his flaws and does not let others dictate how he or she should look.

He or she also prefers to enjoy doing things he/she likes without thinking what others might say. A person with positive body image also serves as an inspiration and does not judge others based on their outside appearance. All of these traits are things that a person with poor body image does not have.

A poor body image can lead to physical and mental issues that can destroy a person’s life. It can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as eating disorders, substance abuse, depression, or even self-harm.

Encouraging positive body image

A person’s body image and self-esteem can be influenced by several factors as mentioned above. However, parents can play a huge role in establishing positive body image on their children. Parents should serve as their children’s primary role model in encouraging positive body image.

Aside from parents, people should also choose others who they think can help them build positive body image and self-esteem. It is true that looking good is necessary in creating a positive impression towards you. But at the end of the day, you should listen to your body and never ever change yourself for others.

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