As today is Valentine’s Day, and many women in particular struggle with the idea that love is reserved only for the beautiful and the young, I thought it was an appropriate time to write about body image.
Body image is not just about how you look; it’s how you perceive how you look (often these are not the same), and how you react to and feel about what you perceive. Certainly some eating disorders can fall into this category, but I’ve also had patients preoccupied with thinning hair, acne, wrinkles, or any other number of perceived physical imperfections. (It’s interesting to me that the patients who come in concerned with hair loss are usually those who strike me immediately as having beautiful, thick hair, and many of the patients who are concerned with acne actually have very little. Perception is not always reality.)
Why Body Image Matters
How we see ourselves affects how we feel about ourselves, and how we feel about ourselves affects how we interact with others. If you’re looking for positive social interaction, from romance to friendship, you absolutely must start with being comfortable with who you are. Otherwise, you are are likely to push others away, or become so preoccupied with your perceived failings that you are unable to reach out to others. Feeling comfortable with and confident in who we are is a prerequisite to having healthy relationships.
It’s no secret we live in a very image-oriented society, and a lot of us (men and women alike) are inundated with unrealistic expectations. Check out this video of four real women, who posed for professional photo shoots and then had the photos altered with Photoshop.