Your body image is the picture that you have in your mind about how you look to yourself as well as what you think others may think about your appearance. The phrase was first used by Paul Schilder, an Austrian neurologist and psychologist in his book, The Image and Appearance of the Human Body, in 1935 and has since been used in psychological, social, cultural and media studies.
You start to develop a concept of yourself as an infant during those vital stages when you are dependent on touch and personal contact from your parents. Your image continues to develop through your adolescence, adulthood and throughout your life and is an ever-changing concept influenced by your family, friends and culture.
A person usually measures their image by comparing it to an “ideal image” or standard that is set by social and cultural influences. For example, an ideal weight may be 120 lbs. as set by an objective standard, such as your friend. People with a negative body image will look at this standard and compare themselves. If they do not meet this standard, they may feel discouraged or upset and experience serious issues such as depression and/or an eating disorder. Statistics show that many women are unhappy with their overall appearance.
How you see yourself is usually an illusion. In psychoanalytic studies, it is not based in truth or fact, but is relative to one’s emotions or changing ideas. For example, Christine can judge Sally and say that she has the most beautiful legs; however, Sally may look at her legs and feel they are too lanky.
Understanding that the “ideal body” is based in ideas and not fact is the most important aspect and the starting point of having a positive outlook. Learn to let go of outside influences and stay positive knowing that you are perfect just the way you are.
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