Body Image and Eating Disorders
Academy for Eating Disorders- http://www.aedweb.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home
A global professional association committed to leadership in eating disorders research, education, treatment, and prevention.
Band Back Together- http://www.bandbacktogether.com/eating-disorders-resources/
Provides resources on different body image and eating disorder issues.
Binge Eating Disorder Association- www.bedaonline.com
Provides the individuals who suffer from binge eating disorder the recognition and resources they deserve to begin a safe journey toward a healthy recovery. BEDA also serves as a resource for providers of all kinds to prevent, diagnose, and treat the disorder.
Body Image Gallery- http://www.mybodygallery.com/index.html
Search for images of women of all shapes and sizes.
Body Image and Self Esteem- http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/body_image/body_image.html
Information for teenagers struggling with body image.
Body Positive- http://www.bodypositive.com/
Boosting body image at any weight - body image links, resources and books all about promoting positive body image.
Eating Disorder Hope- www.eatingdisorderhope.com
Promotes ending eating disordered behavior, embracing life and pursuing recovery through treatment referral, information and resources.
FEAST is an international organization of and for parents and caregivers to help loved ones recover from eating disorders by providing information and mutual support, promoting evidence-based treatment, and advocating for research and education to reduce the suffering associated with eating disorders.
Loving Your Body Inside and Out- http://www.womenshealth.gov/body-image/
A-Z topics about body image, eating disorders, and tips for loving your body inside and out.
National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders- http://www.anad.org/
Nonprofit devoted to prevention and treatment of eating disorders. Links to support group, treatment centers, and information about anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders.
National Institute for Mental Health- Eating Disorders- http://nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml
This detailed offering describes symptoms, causes, and treatments, with information on getting help and coping with Eating Disorders.
The Body Image Workbook- http://www.body-images.com/research/books_audio.html
By Thomas Cash, PhD - many links to useful articles including body image questionnaires.
The National Eating Disorder Association- http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/
Offers support to both sufferers and family members alike. They also have an event and programs calendar with events planned around the USA.
Body Image refers to a person's perception of his or her own physical appearance. Body image also refers to the interpretation of the body by the brain. Society has placed a great value upon beauty of the human body.
A person's body image is thought to be a mixture of personality, social influences, personal experiences, and cultural ideals. The perception of a person's own physical appearance is usually formed in relation to others or cultural ideals. The perception of body image is often different than how others perceive us.
When a person focuses only on their physical appearance, they lose sight that it is who they are that matters.
Body image is what we see in the mirror and can be positive or negative.
How Does Body Image Develop?
We're not born with our body image - culture, society, and people around us influence it. From the time we are babies, we are bombarded with both positive and negative messages about our bodies. We get these messages from magazines, televisions, movies, and other forms of media.
Our emotional states also influence body image. When we're feeling sad or stressed out, we may feel differently about the way we look.
In short, body image is created by a number of factors all working together to make us feel a certain way about ourselves - positive or negative.
People with positive body image are those who feel good about their bodies and the way they look most of the time. Perhaps they don't look exactly like others, or what society tells us to look like, but they don't care. They're proud of the way they look.
What matters is how you FEEL about how you look. Part of having a positive body image comes from how you feel about what your body can do, too.
Positive body image involves seeing yourself for who you are, not just how you look.
A negative body image develops when someone feels that their body doesn't measure up to some standard - set by family, media, or society. Many people feel they don't measure up when they measure themselves against the standards of beauty the media bombards us with. Those with a negative body image are often very dissatisfied with how they look, even though they may not see themselves as they are.
Negative body image leads to people feeling self-conscious and awkward, perhaps even shame, about our bodies. Everyone feels that way sometimes. But if it's a persistent problem, it could be serious.
Who Has Negative Body Image?
Many people (men and women) struggle with negative ideas or unrealistic expectations of the human body. Body image problems are also a growing problem among children (girls and boys alike).
Women tend to focus on their weight or signs of aging, whereas men are more likely to be concerned by muscle tone and body shape.
Statistics regarding females and body image (University of CO):
- As of 1990, girls began dieting on average at age 8.
- Young girls are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of nuclear war, cancer, or losing their parents.
- 35% of occasional dieters become pathological dieters.
- In studies, 74% of women chose an ideal body shape that was 10-20% underweight.
Statistics regarding males and body image (Purdue University):
- 30% of men suffer from either anorexia or bulimia.
- As many as 6% of males have taken steroids by age 18.
- Between 2000 and 2005, the number of Botox treatments men received increased 233%.
Negative Self-Image May Result In:
Having negative body image for an extended period of time can affect mental and physical health. Here are some ways in which negative self-image can affect us.
- Poor decision making
- More apt to succumb to peer pressure
- Low self-esteem and shame
- Take risks with their sexual health
- Cut themselves off from social contact to avoid activities that require showing off their body (like going to the beach, exercising, or having sex)
- Develop serious mental health problems like over exercising, bulimia and anorexia.
There are a lot of different things you can do to develop a positive body image - without changing your body. Body image is, after all, more about how you FEEL about the way you look rather than simply how you look. Sometimes opening up to a family member or good friend about how you feel about yourself can help. Talk to a therapist if you cannot remember a time that you were happy about your image. Try and reframe your thinking about your body.
Here are some additional tips for developing a positive body image:
- Remind yourself that appearance and health are two different things.
- Treat your body with respect and kindness - it's the only one you're going to get. Better get to loving it.
- Ignore the voices that tell you you're not good enough as you are. Because they are wrong. You ARE good enough.
- Appreciate and celebrate all that your body can do.
- Recognize that you're a whole person, not specific body parts.
- Surround yourself with positive people who love you just as you are.
- Wear clothing that makes you feel happy and good about your body.
- Protest and/or ignore the media coverage of "the perfect body."
- Make a list of your positive non-appearance based qualities. They matter!
Information provided above obtained from the Band Back Together Website.