Our Body Image…how we visually perceive our bodies…how we feel and think about our appearance…and our sensitivity to how others perceive us…shapes our behaviors, our attitudes and our experiences.
A positive body image improves self-esteem, self-acceptance, and healthy outlooks and behaviors. It directly affects our overall psychological state. When we have a positive body image, we are able to feel secure, happy, successful and optimistic.
A negative body image, however, is associated with a lack of acceptance…a body that can feel like our worst enemy…and emotions of dissatisfaction, sadness and shame.
What is important to understand, is that body image is NOT inborn or instinctual; it is developed through our interactions with others and with society. How others see us mirrors our body image back to us.
Our first set of mirrors is our immediate family – our parents and our caregivers. How they interact with us – their verbal and non-verbal behavior, feedback and affirmations – plant the seeds…or weeds…of our body image.
The next set of mirrors is our social infrastructure – our friends and our community. How they perceive us, and how we might compare or differ from them, either nurtures the seedings of positive body image…or works to uproot them.
Our final set of mirrors is comprised of the media we consume. The images and standards of beauty we are exposed to in the media, depending on our level and intensity of consumption, further shapes our body image and identity.
Based on this foundational understanding of how our body image is established - how do you think social media plays into these three levels of mirroring? How do you think social media has affected body image? What are your thoughts? We want to hear!
Stay tuned, because tomorrow, we will share what our research revealed.