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BlendsocanuDo you struggle with your body image? If so, you’re far from alone–I’ve been there, and so has most everyone you know, in one way or another.

The fact is that most people feel unhappy about the way their bodies look, feel or are perceived by others. Some are so affected by these feelings that they develop body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a psychiatric condition that causes the victim to literally see something different than reality when it comes to their bodies.

Like everyone who suffers with body image issues, those with BDD are most often driven at least in part by the media’s obsession with a certain body type, along with supporting behaviors from those in their real lives, according to Luanne Kea, a Psychology instructor at South University.

“A person with BDD has taken that information from the environment that a person without BDD would use to determine appropriate clothing, makeup and perhaps greetings, and magnified the different shapes, angles, slopes, or curves of the face or body into imagined unsightly growths, recesses, or grotesque distortions,” Kea says. “Their fear of the social and cultural consequences of not meeting that ideal is far beyond the typical ‘not fitting in,’ and they avoid what they fear will be ostracism, humiliation, (and) public torment because of their ‘deformity.’”
A positive body image is about more than just feeling good.

How you feel about your body affects your confidence, overall self-concept, and personal value–and when you focus on what’s wrong with it, it can affect your entire life.

“People with Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) are concerned, to a level that is above any normal range of concern, with some aspect of their appearance,” Kea says. “Their concern or anxiety over their deformity keeps them from social (outings), work, or relational events and experiences.”

It sure is difficult to feel okay about what you look like when you’re constantly presented images on TV, the internet, and magazines that depict people who are too thin or even digitally enhanced to mask flaws. It’s just unrealistic–so what can you do?

Start With Love: Focus On Yourself First

You already know that it’s important to love yourself for the person that you are. Everyone is made differently, but beautifully, in their own way. Sure, your beauty may be different than that of a fashion model, but you’re still beautiful! Once you accept yourself, you’ll be a happier person.

When you’re learning to love who you are inside and out, you first need to start with the inside. This simply means that you need to work on changing the way you think about beauty.

No one’s absolutely perfect. There may always be something that you don’t particularly like about yourself, but it doesn’t negate your beauty, and it’s certainly no reason to have an unhappy life over it. Shift your focus onto the things that you do like about yourself.

Try having a little faith in humanity. If you people watch in a public place, are you constantly pointing out everyone’s flaws? Chances are that you’re not. You probably don’t judge your friends about their imperfections, so why should you be so hard on yourself?

Stand Out: You’re Uniquely You

Once you’ve worked on your inner feelings, you can then move on to loving yourself on the outside. Unfortunately, in today’s society, people feel ashamed of what they look like to the point of having all sorts of procedures and surgeries. Don’t be fooled! You don’t need this in order to feel good about yourself!

You can attempt to make changes if you have a problem like acne or weight gain, but there are also things that you can’t change, like having wide hips or freckles. The best thing you can do is embrace yourself for the unique individual that you are. After all, there’s no one else on this planet quite like you.

Making Changes in a Healthy Way

If you wish to make changes in your appearance, you can certainly do so. You just need to be doing it for the right reasons. You might need to lose weight in order to get back into a healthy weight range. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to change your hair color every now and then either. Variety is the spice of life.

But some people are tempted to go too far and do things like losing too much weight. They convince themselves that even a healthy weight is “fat” and they strive to be underweight.

It’s important for your health to avoid these types of problems. If you’re stuck in a situation like this, you need to explore the reasons why you feel this way. You also might want to discuss your concerns with a professional.

Passing On a Healthy Body Image

One thing you can do for the world is to help pass on a healthy body image to others. The way the media portrays beauty truly is outrageous, and everyone should be doing their part to promote health and beauty in an undistorted form.

If you have children, teach them that they’re beautiful just the way they are. Since children learn by example, ensure that you never put yourself down in front of them. Avoid complaining about your own body because they might overhear and you might inadvertently teach them something you never intended to teach.

A healthy body image is something we can all strive toward. You’ll make yourself and others feel better by complimenting your friends and family. Everyone likes to get a compliment every now and then. You just might make someone’s day!

What do you think? Do you struggle with body image? How do you get through it? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below.

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