Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The perfect body – part II

As well as the media, another powerful influence on our body image results from the messages we receive from the people closest to us - our parents, siblings, friends, colleagues and teachers. 

Our parents, in particular, can have a major impact on our body image. This concept has been labelled ‘thin-heritance’ and explores how we may model our parents' negative views of food, unhealthy dieting practices and negative attitudes towards their own or our bodies. This can negatively affect our own body image.

In all our relationships, be it with a parent or partner, we seek acceptance and validation. So an offhand look when asking for a second helping may cause individuals to become dissatisfied with their bodies and increase their risk of developing an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

Sometimes body image can also result from the relationship we have with ourselves and in particular, the qualities we possess. Individuals with the following traits are more susceptible to negative body image than others:
  • Perfectionists – their bodies have to be perfect as well.
  • Impressionable people – who are easily manipulated/controlled. 
  • People who compare themselves to others. 
  • People who worry too much about how others view them. 
  • Younger people - adolescents are more likely to be affected by body image. 
  • People who are far from their ideal body – tend to have more body dissatisfaction. 
  • Girls – negative body image is more common in adolescent girls than boys (although, times are changing) and girls are also more likely to internalise standards set by society for the ideal body and feel pressure to conform to these. 
Sexual orientation, particularly for men, and cultural factors can also play a role in negative body image, as some cultures are more accepting of different body shapes than others.

First Psychology Scotland has centres in the following locations:
Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440, www.edinburghtherapy.co.uk
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411, www.glasgowpsychology.co.uk
Borders: 01896-800-400, www.borderspsychology.co.uk
Aberdeen: 01224-452-848, www.aberdeenpsychology.co.uk

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