Body Image Issues Can Be a Serious Struggle for Women

Women's Health Update

Many women have ongoing struggles with their own reflection when they look in the mirror.

Body image is a real and common battle many American women face day-to-day, according to the  U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesOff Site Icon (HHS). Women see images on a daily basis of unrealistic – and oftentimes unhealthy – of what an “ideal” woman looks like. 

The unfortunate message is that women need to be thin and look young to have the greatest value in society, according to the Office on Women’s HealthOff Site Icon (OWH), part of the HHS. 

Following a healthy eating plan and choosing to work more exercise into your day are positive choices. But for women with a poor body image, those healthy lifestyle changes can quickly spiral out of control, even leading to an eating disorder such as anorexia, binge eating, or bulimia

Over-exercising is another issue poor body image can cause, according to the OWH. Though exercise is great for the body, too much exercise can be dangerous because it denies the body the energy and nutrition needed to maintain a healthy weight.

Healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes, according to the HHS. Changing a woman’s body image means she has to change not only her lifestyle choices but also the way she thinks about herself. 

Instead of extreme diets and exercise, women should redirect their focus on to the many benefits of healthy eating, according to the HHS, including healthy hair, healthy skin, and strong bones. In addition, a healthy exercise routine can boost self-esteem, self-image, and energy levels.

The National Eating Disorder AssociationOff Site Icon (NEDA) recommends the following steps to help build a positive body image:

  • Be kind to yourself and take care of yourself. Whether it’s a bubble bath, a nap, a walk outside, or a manicure, do something for you that makes you feel relaxed and shows your body you appreciate it.
  • Change your negative energy into positive change. Use the time you would have spent worrying about food, looks, and weight, and spend it volunteering, helping, or improving the world and those around you. Doing good can help you feel good.
  • Choose not to focus on specific body party, but rather, look at your whole self.
  • Dress in comfortable clothes that make you feel good about yourself. 
  • From running and dancing to breathing and laughing, be appreciative of all the things your body can do.
  • Remember that true beauty is not about your looks, but your self-confidence, openness to feel beautiful, and the way you carry yourself.
  • Shut down the voice in your head that makes you second guess yourself. Overpower negative thoughts by choosing positive ones.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. When other people are supportive, it is easier to feel positive about yourself.
  • Write down a top ten list of things you like about yourself. It should include things that are unrelated to your weight or looks. Read the list often.

If you find yourself struggling with body image, it’s important to find support, according to the HHS. Gather a support group of friends and loved ones who can help to build you up and boost your confidence. 

You can also find a partner and agree to help each other eat healthier and stay physically active, according to the HHS.

For more information about body image, talk with your doctor or find a physician