Having a disrupted body image is experienced frequently in society. Unfortunately, weight loss is glamorized, while weight gain is condemned in media and other platforms that people are uncontrollably shown on a daily basis. Health looks different at every size. It is not about weight; it is about health. The media forgets that weight loss can be influenced by trauma, anxiety, depression, stress and more. To assume that someone losing weight is a good thing is a problem.
Defining body image
Body checking is defined as continuously observing someone’s body in a mirror to “undo” negative body related anxiety and distress. These patterns are a behavioral manifestation of a disrupted body image. Improving someone’s perception towards their own body image can help significantly in recovery.
How to improve body image
Body image therapy can help reduce body image issues. Similar to exposure therapy, body image issues often decrease with exposure. This ties to the concept of the Habituation. Habituation is defined as a learning process wherein there is a decrease in response to a stimulus after continuously being exposed to it. When someone repeatedly practices decreasing their time spent body checking, major change occurs as the person is continuously exposed to it.
Fat is not a feeling
Fat is not a feeling, it’s an avoidance of feelings. It is important to recognize the underlying feelings going on when someone is struggling with body image. When I was in the depths of my eating disorder and I was struggling with body image, I would have the perspective that my body is something that can be fixed. My body is not a car that I can change parts as I would like. Life is far too short to think my body is something I can alter like an automobile. Someone’s body is the least interesting thing about them but yet they can focus greatly upon it. What matters the most is someone’s inner being, soul, and spirit. A person’s body is individually unique and there is no changing your body to resolve the underlying feelings going on.
Shifting the dialogue
Those with eating disorders and those concerned about their body often scrutinize their disliked body parts more than those who are not as dissatisfied with their bodies and do not have an eating disorder. Those with eating disorders are more likely to be harsh towards their body than someone who doesn’t have an eating disorder. As much as 1/4 of someone’s self-esteem is the result of how positive or negative their body image is. Further, shifting the dialogue someone has towards their body is a key aspect of recovery.