The theme for this years Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Body Image’. Not that long ago it isn’t a subject that people really spoke about, like mental health, but with the rise of social media sites such as Instagram it has become a hot topic.
The best place to start is probably with a simple question – what is Body Image? According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) it is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind. This includes:
From a young age many of us internalise messages about our body which can lead to us having a positive or negative body image. These messages may come from your own thoughts, what others say to you, messages spread through the media or societal preconceptions. In order to prevent eating disorders and maintain your mental wellbeing it is important to have a positive body image.
A positive body image is having a clear, true perception of your shape and seeing your body as you truly are. Body positivity is when you feel comfortable and confident in your body. You have accepted your natural body shape and size and will accept that your physical appearance doesn’t tell anyone anything about your character or value as a person.
If you have a negative body image you have a greater likelihood of developing eating disorders and are more likely to suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, low self esteem, isolation and body dysmorphia. As with mental health, body image issues can affect anyone, any age, culture, gender. There are traditionally triggers that put pressure on certain groups in different ways such as girls looking ‘thin and beautiful’ and for boys to be ‘lean and muscular’.
The movement for body positivity has been making strides to promote diversity and body acceptance. They also promote healthy body image and to embrace your body as being a good body. We all have days when we feel uncomfortable with who we are but we need to develop positive body image to recognise our natural shape and respect our body for what it does and can do. We also need to find a way to overpower the negative thoughts and feelings that we have and have positive and accepting feelings about how we look.
Accept yourself and your body as that is who you are and you’re amazing