Body Image. For so many of us, it feels as though we should be ‘above’ that sort of thing; that characteristics like personality, intellect, values and moral codes should stand for so much more than how we look. We might say to ourselves “That’s just the surface! It’s what’s on the inside that counts!” but it can be so much easier to voice those thoughts than actually believe them.
Poor body image affects most people some of the time and some people a lot of the time - and nearly all the time, the harshest critics are ourselves. We might not dream of telling someone else their backside has more craters in it than the surface of the moon, but a quick swivel glance in a full length mirror can induce the worst criticisms you’re ever likely to hear.
Like it or not, male, female, young or old, body image can still have a massive impact on how we feel about ourselves – not just in terms of the way we look, but how happy we think we’ll be and the kind of relationships we think we deserve. So in terms of wellbeing, both short term and long term, we’ve got to change the record or it’s not going to do us any favours.
Digital video producers, The Scene, invited two young women to take part in a body image experiment (open video). The friends were asked to write down all the thoughts and feelings they had about their own bodies and then read the comments out as if directed to the other person. The results show how little love, kindness and acceptance the women had towards themselves compared to those they love - something many of us can identify with. The message: when you notice that critical voice, try offering yourself a little friendly compassion instead.