Your body image is how you perceive, think and feel about your body. This may have no no relation at all on your actual appearance. It is common in Western nations for women to believe that they are larger than they really are. Only one in five women are satisfied with their body weight. Nearly half of all normal weight women overestimate their size and shape. A distorted body image, especially after childbirth can lead to self destructive behaviour like dieting or binge eating.
A poor body image can promote an unhealthy lifestyle. The urge to diet or use other potentially dangerous weight loss methods such as not eating, smoking or using laxatives is almost always prompted by feeling unhappy with body shape or size.
If a woman feels self conscious about her appearance, she may avoid exercising beause it might mean exposing her body shape to the public eye. Alternatively, she might over exercise in a bid to lose weight quickly.
A RANGE OF CAUSES
So what are the factors that may contribute to a negavive body image:
* being teased about your appearance in childhood
* growing up with dieting parents, or one who was unhappy with their body shape
* a cultural tendency to judge people by their appearance
* peer pressure among teenage girls to be slim, go on diets and compare themselves with otheres
* media and advertising images promoting thinness as the ideal image
* a tendency in women’s media to push fad diets and weight loss programs
* well meaning public health campaigns that urge people to lose weight
A negative body image develops over the course of your life, but can be exacerbated after childbirth. So changing that negative image can take time and effort. Suggestions for improving your body image include:
* reflecting on your experiences and trying to unravel the development of your body image from childhood
* talk about feelings and experiences with other women who have similar concerns
* make a pact with yourself to treat your body with respect, which includes giving it enough
healthy food, water and rest
* give yourself a break from women’s magazines and the mass media that portray model figures as the norm
* try some form of physical activity purely for the fun of it, not as a means of weight loss. It needs to be enjoyable or you won’t stick to it
* stop weighing yourself, your clothes should be your guide
* change your goal from weight loss to improving your health
* become informed by reading up on body image issue and self esteem
Last of all, your body has been through an amazing journey with your pregnancy and birth. So don’t be too hard on yourself. If you are breastfeeding, your post baby weight will just melt away, so relax. If you’re not breastfeeding, you may have to work a little harder at loosing the weight, but it will happen. Just believe in yourself. You’re amazing, I love you.