Are you unhappy with the way you look? It's rare to find someone who's 100 percent satisfied with their own body — most of us have at least a few gripes and can single out features we'd like to improve.
For the most part, we just get on with things and try not to let it affect us. But in some cases, these minor concerns can escalate into a full-blown obsession that drags down your mental health without you even realising it.
What Is Body Image?
Put simply, it's a mental picture of what we think we look like. The funny thing is, it doesn't necessarily correspond with reality or the way others see us. And the more skewed your perception, the more likely you are to be unsatisfied with your body and to suffer as a result.
It doesn't matter whether you're overweight, underweight, tall, short, bald, hairy or somewhere in between, you can pick faults in everything if you have an overly self-critical mindset. And if you thought body image issues only affect women, think again. Men are just as vulnerable, but less likely to deal with it because guys often feel they should maintain stoicism and confidence at all times.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with wanting to get in shape. The problem happens when our current physical condition causes us undue pressure, anxiety or depression, and prevents us from engaging with society.
What Are the Signs?
It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between legitimate concerns and debilitating body image issues, so here are a few questions you can ask yourself to try and figure it out:
How much time do you spend in front of the mirror?
Obsessive self-scrutiny is a good indicator of an underlying issue, especially if your internal dialogue is almost exclusively negative while you're doing it.
Do you compare yourself unfavourably to others?
There's nothing wrong with holding a particular type of physique in admiration and aspiring to improve your own, but drawing direct comparisons with other people is both a futile exercise and highly likely to dent your self-esteem.
Are you considering taking extreme measures to resolve your issues?
I'm talking about starving yourself, binge eating, undergoing elective surgery (e.g. gastric bypass, liposuction), or using potentially harmful substances like steroids to try and "fix" your body. This is getting into self-harm territory.
What Can Be Done About It?
The first step toward overcoming your body image issues is to simply acknowledge them. In fact, awareness is half the battle. You may already be starting to feel differently about yourself having read this article, in which case you're well on your way to recovery.
But all the same, I encourage you to keep investigating. Just remember to keep things in perspective. No one around you is paying as much attention to your size, shape or features as you are. Most people are far too engrossed in their own lives to notice, let alone judge you.
Want more advice to get you on the right track with your weight and body image? Request a free consultation here at our Personal Training Studio in Ranelagh — we're here to help.