Body image is the perception that a person has of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings that result from that perception. These feelings can be positive, negative or both and are influenced by individual and environmental factors. In a world where appearances are taken as a vital parameter of judgment & evaluation, consciousness and stress pertaining to body image is inevitable leading to an exponential rise in social comparisons and low self image and confidence issues in youngsters. Factors leading to a negative body image include:

  • Age
  • Gender - adolescent girls are more prone to body dissatisfaction than adolescent boys
  • Low self-esteem and/or depression
  • Personality traits - people with perfectionist tendencies, high achievers, 'black and white' thinkers, those who internalise beauty ideals, and those who often compare themselves to others, are at higher risk of developing negative body image
  • Teasing
  • Friends/Family/Role models - role models expressing body image concerns and modelling weight loss behaviours, can increase the likelihood of an individual developing body dissatisfaction regardless of actual body type

This might further lead to maladaptive habits to fit into the mould set by society like:

  • Obsessive self scrutiny in mirrors
  • Harsh comments about one's body
  • Constant comparison of own shape and size to other people
  • Envy of other's body
  • Strenuous physical exercise regime
  • Following unsuitable diets
  • Starving

Such unrealistic expectations have become contributing factors to an epidemic of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia which is plaguing the youth of today. It is the need of the hour to realize that we do not need to be defined by the narrow definitions of beauty set by societal standards and we need to learn to accept how we are inclusive of our flaws and strengths & stop validating ourselves solely on the basis of outward appearances. We are so much more than what meets the eye.

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