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Body Image Issues and Eating Disorders! (Part01)

Shanu Shashank
Shanu Shashank
Now, before we go deep into this topic and find out the takeaways, I would like to make this more engaging for each of you reading this. Let’s see if we can answer these questions truthfully , you can also try writing down the questions and respective answers that come up (you can enter in the comments too).

* How often do you see yourself in the mirror and how do you feel about it?

* How often do you compare your progress/ shape/size with others?

* Do you feel yourself being fatter or thinner than your current state every time you see yourself in the mirror?

* Do you often get impatient with the rate of your progress?

Body image is how we see ourselves when we look into the mirror or how we picture or visualize ourselves in our minds, along with the attitude and perceptions that we develop about our physical appearances(height, weight, color, etc). While a positive visualization can lead to more happy thoughts, the negative ones could lead us to some unhealthy measures, thus resulting in development of eating disorders and a bad food relationship ( related to size and weight).

Now that we have tried answering the above questions, let us check out a few more of such behaviors or outcomes that we might tend to showcase.

* How often would you go out of the plan? Did the progress seem like giving up all?

* How often would you fear to eat ?

* Would you start eating less?

* Would you binge eat?

I would leave the answer to each of the above questions to be checked individually (will cover later), maybe you can write them down again.

We all have a different response or “reactions” to such feelings and emotions; while few might capitalize that negative energy and turn it into enthusiasm and discipline, moving through the different levels of emotional scale, there are others who might fall prey.
The difference is largely noticed even from one gender to another. Where men are more inclined towards having a fit and an aesthetic physique, women might tend to project themselves with the best of fitness and health levels only when they become leaner and thinner(will cover in next part).

The idea of being lean should be derived by maintaining a lower body fat % and a healthy body composition with the right way, rather than starving yourself to just see those numbers going down on scale with time, the individual goals might differ though.

But, why/how do we develop this behavior of “negative body image” ?

* Social factors (people in our surroundings) play an intriguing role in conditioning us during our upbringing, the way we feel and see ourselves are largely defined by this feeling of judgement by others. Eg:- Women should not have muscles as they might look masculine and lose their femininity(physically), while on some occasions they would be asked to lose weight to be acceptable for marriages and many more (will cover this in the latter part).

* Relative comparison — Remember the last time you were comparing your physique with that guy who just posted his transformation. Didn’t it feel like — “Oh I should have this body and get those applauds too.” And in the middle of the journey- “why can’t I get that physique, I think I am not good enough, i think am not losing weight”; and thus the feelings of anxiety and self doubts come up, isn’t it?

* Social media influences/ channels — Do you still follow that social media king having that chiseled chest or that charming model with a perfect shape? Well, a lot of what you see in the social media channels is an exaggerated version of some lights and angles, attires and posing. Be watchful!

* Childhood obesity could also be a reason for development of a negative body image due to a continuous peer pressure or a ill treatment regarding appearance by people around, with time.

* Food Companies and misleading advertisements- All these years, a number of items/products have been up scaled or down scaled through advertisements broadcasting incomplete information and deceiving a large set of population with an exaggerated outlook of models and artists, setting up wrong expectations among people. So, be careful next time you see your favorite artist selling a particular item on TV, there are high chances they themselves might not be aware of the effects and composition. So, did you fall for that green tea ad for weight loss?

So, we all understand by now what mindsets have been responsible in developing a negative body image along with the causes behind. So it is important to remember that your body is not just you, it is a part of you and a very significant one at that but let us not treat that as a be all and end all situation. With all these influences in and around you, it’s important that one does not lose sight of what wants to be and how we can work upon to be at a better state both physiologically and psychologically.
In the next part(s), I shall be covering behavioral changes in accordance to the causes of body image issues and managing emotions which arise out of a bad body image and how we can develop a positive body image.