How many “I hate my body” moments have you had today (already?)
This guest post provided by Heidi_PsyD from http://www.examiner.com/eating-disorder-in-philadelphia/heidi-dalzell
Despite some trends to the contrary, many young women continue to experience negative very body image Glamour magazine’s yearly survey. And although this may not be “news” to many who are aware that women are unhappy with their looks, the sheer numbers were astounding.
The challenge: Glamour asked young women readers to note every negative or anxious thought they had about their bodies over the course of a day.
According to the results, negative body image is extremely prevalent: 97% of readers who responded to the survey admitted to having at least one “I hate my body” moment a day. Women averaged 13 negative body thoughts a day. Some respondents, however, had upwards of 35, 50, even 100 negative thoughts a day about their bodies.
- Our Experiment
- Why Your Body May Not Be the Problem
- Silencing Your Inner “Mean Girl”
- How Change Can Happen
- The Real (Really Harsh) Things Women Think About Their Bodies
- Secrets of the 3% of Women Who Love Their Bodies
Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., is a psychologist who specializes in treatment of body image issues. She was instrumental in helping Glamour design the survey. “It’s become such an accepted norm to put yourself down … It’s actually more acceptable to insult your body than to praise it.”
There are a number factors that play a role in why our body image. These include unattainable cultural ideals of beauty and celebrity worship, according to Kearney-Cooke. Often women compare themselves with these standards and find themselves lacking. This begins the process of negative thinking. “If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts about your body, those thoughts become habitual,” she explains. Glamour jokingly refers to this negative voice as “the inner mean girl.”
Cassie, a 21-year-old from Northeast Philadelphia has struggled with body image issues. “One of the first thing my therapist asked me to do was to count all my bad body talk, just like in the survey,” she says. “I was shocked by the things I was saying to myself. When I finally began to challenge these thoughts and to stop putting myself down, I definitely noticed a shift.”
In addition to challenging and stopping negative self-talk there are a number of things to do to improve body image. Michael Levine, Ph.D. and Linda Smolak, Ph.D., who developed guidelines for the National Eating Disorders Association, suggest that women assess the reasons they are putting down their bodies; does it have any benefit to them? They also suggest coming up with reasons that it is ridiculous that thinner people are happier or “better,” that women struggling with poor body image limit time spent in front of mirrors, and that we can all benefit from activities that allow us to treat our bodies with kindness and respect, such as comfortable dress and healthy exercise.