First ask yourself, how do I feel about my body, and when did I first learn to think and feel this way? Body Image issues often start for young girls early on. This is very troubling because poor self-esteem and poor body image often lead to depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Girls feel that their appearance is of primary importance to who they are and how they are accepted by their peers and adults. The need to be slender and attractive is a powerful force in our culture. Women and girls tend to value themselves based on how they look. Research suggests that 86% of women are dissatisfied with their body size. Given these vulnerabilities, it is no wonder that eating disorders and body image disorders are so prevalent amongst teens and young women.
If you find that how you look and what you eat consumes much of your thinking and behaviors, it may be time to seek help. Leading a healthy lifestyle is as much about balance and enjoyment as it is about healthy foods and healthy action. Becoming too focused on how we look distracts us from other important and valuable parts of our self and our life. The ideal is to find that balance of a healthy body, healthy mind, and healthy life.
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Body Dysmorphic Disorder
This is a disorder of "imagined ugliness." The image that individuals with this disorder see in the mirror is a grossly distorted view of what they actually look like. Often, these individuals will spend hours examining, attempting to conceal, or obsessing over their perceived flaws. Some people actually spend thousands of dollars on plastic surgery in an attempt to improve their bodies. There tends to be extreme obsessiveness over perceived flaws, and compulsive behaviors to fix flaws.
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This disorder is characterized by an extreme fear of gaining weight, and these individuals actually perceive their bodies as larger, or "fat," even though they are grossly underweight. There tends to be extreme restriction of food intake, and they may have ritualistic behaviors of what foods to eat, times to eat, and methods of intake.
Individuals with this disorder are also very dissatisfied with their bodies, and have extreme concern with body weight and shape. There are disturbing behaviors of both binging on excess food, then purging food, either by vomiting or excess exercise resulting from feelings of intense guilt and fear of "getting fat."
Treatment for body image based challenges focuses on CBT, ACT, and mindfulness. There may also be a need for nutritional/diet based interventions as well.