WHAT IS BODY IMAGE?
Body Image is a term we use to describe how we, and others see our body, and also how we see other people. Everybody wants to be accepted by others, and part of that is what we look like. It's also what we think about when we see ourselves in the mirror. Sometimes we feel pressure from other people or the media to look a certain way.
But during the ages of 12 - 18 years our body goes through pretty big changes. These can include - breasts getting bigger, becoming a hairy monkey, and for boys it can be their voices being in their knees. For some people 'Body Image' means what you look like, is who you are.
Some young people think being thin/muscular/tall/blonde/brunette etc. will bring extra bonuses:
• Having a better social life and being popular
• Being attractive, gorgeous, desirable
• Being successful, intelligent.
BUT… that is not true because body image is only skin deep.
What kind of people do we usually see in our newspapers, on TV etc.?
The media are one of our worst enemies. They try to make a perfect mould for everyone to fit into. Media is a broad subject (it can include magazines, television and music videos). How many less than perfect people do you see in magazines, in popular bands, or walking down the catwalk?
MYTHS/FACTS ABOUT BODY IMAGE
Are the following myths or fact?
• thin people are more successful
• blonde people have more chances of getting a partner
• overweight people are unhealthy
• tall people are smarter
GETTING POSITIVE ABOUT BODY IMAGE
There are some positives about body image. You can become more familiar with your body and have more acceptance of yourself, for who you are. This can lead to happier moods and higher self esteem. Another thing is you start to see beauty in a different light.
What are some of the negatives of body image?
• frequent dieting to become more acceptable
• huge weight loss/gain
• degrading yourself because whatever you have tried isn't working
• being suspicious about compliments
• lower self esteem because you can't win
• sickness, eg. Eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia
• Maybe the diet you try does not work, then you are a loser.
Some strategies to deal with body image can be:
• don't try to live up to the media or peer pressure
• maybe try to really believe in yourself
• maybe try raising awareness in your school community about body image, food, weight, beauty myths
• or even stop buying magazines eg. Heat or Now… and complain about pictures they use
• maybe if you just smile at someone
• Finally, celebrate and be happy with who you are
GET THE SKILL: SELF-TALK
WHAT DO YOU THINK SELF-TALK IS?
• Self-talk is those thoughts we have about our lives and ourselves. Self-talk is something everyone does.
• These thoughts can have a direct effect on our mental health, which can be good or bad depending on what these thoughts are.
Can you think of any examples of Self-Talk?
SELF-TALK: THE POSITIVE AND THE NEGATIVE
Is about talking to yourself positively or ‘building yourself up’.
One example of positive Self-talk might be if you are learning to play the guitar and you tell yourself you ‘will be good’ if you continue to practise. Because you believe you ‘will be good’ this encourages you to you continue to practise until eventually you can play.
If your Self-talk had been negative and you had told yourself you were ‘no good’, would this have changed your attitude to learning the guitar?
Is about talking to yourself negatively or ‘putting yourself down’.
One example of negative Self-talk might be if you compare yourself to people at school and tell yourself that you’ll never be as ‘cool’ or ‘popular’ as them.
If you were thinking in this way how might you feel?
You might think you are not good enough to talk to those people and begin feeling insecure around them. Thinking in this way will stop you from seeing your good points and stop you being as successful as you can possibly be.
Can anyone think of an example of positive self-talk in this situation?
HOW TO TURN NEGATIVE SELF-TALK POSITIVE
Like anything, thoughts can become habits and these can be hard to break. So if your self-talk is always down on yourself it might be hard to believe the good things about yourself; but what can you do to change this?
Be your own best friend
If another person told you that you were fat, ugly or stupid every time you saw them how would you feel? More than likely you would you dislike this person greatly and not want them around but also you would start to believe them. Self-talk is the same. Treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend. A best friend would always be supportive and talk to you in a positive way. Be your own best friend!
Check if you’re being realistic
During tough times in our lives, we sometimes blame ourselves and say things like "how could I be so stupid," "I'm hopeless," "I can’t do this" etc. and we can feel bad about everything. We need to calm down and check if we are being realistic. Asking these kinds of questions can help:
• Am I focusing on my weaknesses and forgetting what I am good at and what is good about me?
• Am I being realistic?
• What can I say to myself that is more encouraging?
Next time you’re worried about things try using a positive thought to help encourage yourself. Write it down or say it out loud, it will stick in your mind and eventually have a positive effect on your feelings too.
Get someone else’s opinion too
When you are having lots of negative thoughts about yourself or about what's happening in your life it is sometimes hard to see things as they really are. At times like this it’s a good idea to get someone else's opinion. Talking with someone supportive that you trust and respect can help you work out what is real and to get a more positive and realistic view of yourself and what is happening.
What Positive Self-Talk can do for you.
Positive self-talk helps you calm yourself down, feel more confident, and see things in perspective, but most importantly it helps to build a positive, supportive relationship with yourself. This is important to have so you can build good relationships with others and get what you want out of life.