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Body image

What it is and how to improve it

NEED Peer Educator

Published: Friday, October 22, 2010

Updated: Thursday, October 21, 2010 21:10

Each of us carries around an inner view of our outer self, or rather, an image of the body as seen through the mind's eye. This view that one holds of the body is known as body image. Body image is a product of your imagination, and it is composed of many parts such as visual, emotional, mental, kinesthetic, and historical aspects. Your body image is always changing, for when you are feeling confident, it inflates, and when you are feeling discouraged, it shrinks. In addition, your body image is primarily a social affair in that how you see yourself greatly depends on how you are perceived by others.  Although your body image is purely a construct of your imagination, your image of yourself feels very real and your body image can be a constant source of strength or a chronic source of pain. Poor body image can manifest itself in a variety of ways such as a mild feeling of depression, a gross exaggeration in the perception of one's physical attributes (dysmorphia), or the development of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder. 

   In college, regardless if you are a male or a female, one can develop a negative body image that can eventually come to affect their daily life. Our cultural standards of beauty and perfection reinforce the need to be critical of one's appearance. In addition, the overall stress that schoolwork can bring doesn't help ease the pressure. However, success in attaining a healthy body image throughout one's life can be achieved in various ways:

1.Admitting that you need to change your relationship with your body.

2.Break the problem down into small, manageable parts. If you approach your goal step by step, then change will seem less threatening.

a.Example: Become aware of what your body does each day, as the instrument of your life, not just as an ornament; start only wearing clothes that give you feelings of power, strength, and comfort.

3.Set modest goals and be optimistic. Expect success, and concentrate more on your overall progress rather than your setbacks.

a.Example: Do not say anything negative about your body for a week; describe 10 positive things about yourself, without mentioning your appearance.

4.Begin to act – do something tangible. Taking action makes you feel less helpless about your body – image concerns.

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