Body Image – what is it? Information, -general etc Perception (Cognitive) Dissatisfaction (Affective) Behaviors (Behavioral) -satisfaction and perception -influences -media -family and friends -athletics 2. Health professionals – reality about health and weight, experiences, health, and fitness. 3. Improving and keeping Healthy Body Image -self esteem -Body Image steps 1-9 -How to have a good body image
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Your perception of how your body looks forms your body image. Interestingly, an athletic 20 year old fitness model could have a very poor body image, while a moderately active 50 year old man or woman could have a great body image. Regardless of how closely your actual figure resembles your perception, your body image can affect your self-esteem, your eating and exercise behaviors, and your relationships with others. What do you see in the mirror? (perceptions). How do you feel about what you see in the mirror? (dissatisfaction). How does this affect your behavior and emotions? (behavioral/affective)
Self-esteem is all about how much people value themselves , the pride they feel in themselves, and how worthwhile they feel. Self-esteem is important because feeling good about oneself can affect behavior. For example, a person with high self-esteem will make friends easily, is more in control of his or her behavior, and will enjoy life more; whereas a person with low self-esteem may be withdrawn and uncomfortable with others. For many people, especially people in their early teens, body image can be closely linked with self-esteem.
A person with a poor body image will perceive his or her own body as being unattractive to themselves and others, while a person with a healthy body image will see him or herself as attractive to others, and accept his or her body in its current form. Body image is unique to everyone – perceptive issues are not common to everyone. People will perceive things differently. You have your unique body image ‘experiences.’ (Perception, satisfaction, behavior, and affect).
One’s body image is not necessarily related to any objective measures (such as one’s actual weight status) or the opinions of others. For example, a person who has a poor body image may be objective rated as physically attractive by others, and a person with a good body image may be rated as unattractive by others. Body image is most strongly affected during puberty. (Body image terms: poor/good; positive/negative).
In the Western societies such as US, there is a lot of emphasis placed on body weight, size, and overall physical appearance. ( e.g. hair, symmetry of features, etc .) We are conditioned from a very young age to believe that self-worth is derived from these external physical characteristics, vs internal characteristics. ( e.g. morals, values, altruism, intelligence, etc .) For example, being thin and/or muscular is associated with being “hard-working, successful, popular, beautiful, strong, and self-disciplined.” On the other hand, being “fat” is associated with being “lazy, ignorant, hated, ugly, weak, and lacking will-power.” These stereotypes are prevalent in our society; and they are reinforced by the media, our family and friends, and even well-respected health professionals. Other stereotypes: “Thin people” have it all. “This is glamorous.” As a result, we often unfairly judge others and label them based on their weight, size and appearance alone. We feel great anxiety and pressure to achieve and/or maintain a very lean and attractive physique. And, we believe that if we can just be thinner, more muscular and overall more like what society says is ‘attractive’. , we can be happier, more successful, and more accepted by society. Body Image is not just about size and weight, especially during puberty. It is about face and appearance, etc. Such things as acne, bad teeth, sparse hair, kinky hair, freckles, scars, and disproportionate body can all influence body image negatively at this age.
A study on body satisfaction found that most girls aren’t satisfied with their body shape. Majority of girls (59 percent) are dissatisfied with their body shape and 66 percent want to lose weight. Another study indicated that many do not perceive their body adequately. About about two-thirds (65 percent) of girls can correctly identify themselves as being either normal weight or overweight, while one-third of all girls have a distorted idea about their weight. They cannot identify their weight correctly. Study:
African Americans seem to have different attitudes about weight, body size, and attractiveness than do Caucasians. They have less drive for thinness and a greater acceptance of larger body proportions. A mother’s weight, body image, attitude, and health habits are strong indicators of whether or not her daughter is overweight, satisfied with her body, and physically active. Reference:
The onset of mirrors led to individuals of being critical of their appearance. Today one of the reasons most often cited for the continued body dissatisfaction among young women is modern media influence , particularly related to the expression of the western ideology of thinness and glamour of diet and perfect skin, makeup etc. Modern media influences including that from: Compact disc (CD) covers Advertisements Movies Music videos Television Video games Magazines
If media does enforce perceptions of what the human body should look like and the image is that of flawless skin and that of a thin, toned body, then it is hard for many to realize that beauty can exist outside of these constraints. Media states that they are merely reflecting the ideals of the current generation or using whatever image best sells their products. However, research has shown that media plays a larger role in reinforcing , rather than simply reflecting, perceptions of the human body .
The media sets unrealistic standards for what body weight and appearance is considered “normal.” Girls are indoctrinated at a very young age that they are suppose to look like models. (i.e. no fat anywhere on your body, but large breasts). Average models body mass (BMI) index is about 16, extremely thin, vs normal weight woman’s BMI being 22. Boys are given the impression that men naturally have muscles bulging all over their bodies. They should look like action figures with large arms and tiny waist and these body ideals are reinforced every day on TV shows, movies, magazine covers, and even video games. The media’s portrayal of what is “normal” keeps getting thinner and thinner for women and more muscular and ripped for men. Twenty-five years ago, the average female model weighed 8% less than the average American woman. Currently, the average female model weighs 23% below her average weight. Similar trends are seen with men. With these unrealistic media images and body ideals, many women and men feel inadequate, ashamed, and dissatisfied with how they look. Only about 5% of women have the genetic make up to ever achieve the ultra-long and thin model body type so pervasive in the media. Yet that is the only body type that women see and can compare themselves to. Similarly, male body ideal is impossible to achieve without illegal anabolic steroids. There is a physiological limit to how much muscle a man can attain and maintain naturally, given his height, frame, and body fat percentage. Unfortunately, however, the cartoon heroes and male fitness models on magazine covers and ads suggest otherwise.
In high school you may feel great pressure to be thin or super muscular in order to be accepted by your peers and family members and to be attractive to potential romantic partners. In these situations, you may be surrounded by negative “body talk”…in the bathroom, in the dining halls, in social activities…there’s no escaping the comments (“Yuck! Look at my thighs…I’m so fat! I really need to go on a diet!”). All these comments can make you crazy! They can make you start worrying about your own weight and make you start feeling self-conscious about your own body, even though you never worried about it before!
Your mother, or other family member, may have done the same thing while your were growing up by making constant comments about her own weight (or yours) and enforcing lots of food restrictions on herself (or you). Early on, you may have gotten the message that you need to be thin in order to be accepted and loved by your parents.
If you’re an athlete, you may feel tremendous pressure to lose weight or body fat so you can make a specific weight class (i.e. wrestling, crew, boxing), race faster (i.e. running, cycling), or achieve more difficult skill level (i.e. gymnastics, dance, cheerleading, figure skating). The pressure may come from you, your teammates, your coach, and/or your parents. In any case, the message is clear, “you need to have a certain body to perform well and be considered a good athlete.”
Weight and height measurements are routinely done at health clinics; and you are often assigned a certain label (“underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese”) based on these measurements. Your clinician may even encourage you to lose weight, to see a dietitian, or to consider drugs or surgery based on these numbers, without even asking about your eating and exercise habits or considering your level of fitness. The clinician, of course, has good intentions. After all, clinicians are taught in their medical training about all the perils of the “obesity epidemic.” They are reminded again and again that obesity is a “disease” that can (and should) be aggressively treated with drugs.
If you have been a victim of this type of weight prejudice by the medical community, it’s understandable that your body image and self-esteem would suffer. After all, you are being told by one of the most powerful and respected members of society that you are “diseased.” The guilt, shame, and self-loathing associated with such a label does nothing to support healthy eating, physical activity, and good health; and, in many cases, it does just the opposite.
While weight measurements may actually reflect bad eating habits, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor health and fitness, they don’t always. In fact, there are many large, “overweight” (but fit) men and women who eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and enjoy excellent health (as indicated by their optimal blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels). And, there are many “healthy weight” men and women who don’t.
Keep in mind that your weight and body composition are determined by a number of factors. Some of these factors (such as your calorie intake and level of physical activity) can be manipulated. Other factors (such as your body type , bone structure, the way you store fat, and other genetic variables) cannot be manipulated. The body is not completely ‘malleable’ (able to be changed). You may have to work within your body type to achieve a healthy goal.
What does a number on the scale really tell you about how healthy or fit someone is? When you step on a scale, the weight that you see doesn’t tell you anything about your body composition (i.e. how much is muscle, bone, or fat). Keep in mind that muscle is denser and weighs more than fat. So, if you are very physically active and have more muscle, you SHOULD weigh more. In addition, weight (or even body composition) isn’t the best indicator of health and fitness. Your eating habits, exercise patterns, and metabolic measures (like blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood glucose levels) are more important indicators of your health. And, your fitness level is better measured by your cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, and flexibility--not by your weight and body fat. Eat based on MyPyramid? Learn about serving sizes and calorie levels. Exercise 30-60 minutes a day? Exercise helps keep heart and brain active. What are your cholesterol, iron, and glucose values? Avoid chronic diseases by keeping lab values within normal range. Do you sleep well and have energy during the day? Exercise and proper nutrition helps you sleep so you can be alert during the day.
Changes that accompany puberty, such as changes in appearance, ability, performance, and strength are all perfectly normal parts of growing up. Seek help from trusted sources such as the parents, a school nurse, the family doctor or the following websites: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/teenhealth.html http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/ http://www.teenhealthfx.com/
What can you do to improve your body image? De-emphasize weight. Don’t get hung up on numbers. Weight doesn’t tell you much. Is it muscle, bone, or fat? Muscle weighs more than fat. Weight isn’t the best indicator of health or fitness. Your eating habits, exercise patterns, and other lifestyle choices are more important. Weight doesn’t define who you are or what you are worth as a person. There is no such thing as one “ideal body weight” based on your height. Each one of us has a healthy weight based on our body type, bone structure, muscle mass, genetics, what weight we feel our best at, and what weight our body tends to want to maintain at. There is a physiological limit to how muscular you can get naturally. Many of the supermuscular male bodies you see in the media are just the products of drugs. It is not possible to be that muscular and that lean without chemical assistance. Instead of thinking of it as a limit, think of it as your personal best.
It is common to compare our appearance with our friends; however, avoid it as much as possible. It is also a bad idea to compare ourselves with celebrities and models. Most people don’t look like those that are shown in the media. Many times the images are touched up to enhance the appearance of the person in the picture. Photo editing is used to give celebrities and models a flawless appearance (i.e. remove wrinkles, skin eruptions, blackheads, circles under the eyes, scars etc). Celebrate your body and the marvelous things it can do when you are fit and well nourished. So often we take these things for granted. Focus on how your clothes fit and feel, not how much you weigh.
Making educated choices about food and exercise is part of developing a mind and a life of your own. It is always important to engage in some form of physical activity. About ¾ of all teens stop participating in sports around the time that their bodies develop. Physical changes sometimes makes it harder to participate in certain sports. Whether you no longer feel comfortable doing the sport you previously did, or even if you have never really exercised in the past, there is an exercise for everyone. Experiment with different types of activities, from walking, to yoga classes or martial arts until you find something that you are comfortable with.
If you’re uncomfortable with some of the changes, don’t stress. Just like a friendship that grows and evolves, keeping in touch with our body takes time. For example, a minor imperfection can become overwhelming when it is the sole focus of attention. But the truth is, other people won’t notice it like you do.
What people do notice is how you project your feelings about yourself. For example, if you think you’re too tall, you will be much more noticeable. Slumping over makes you look smaller and vulnerable. Work on good posture and walk with a sense of confidence. You’ll probably become more confident, too. It will take a while but then it will become second nature.
Beauty & Attractiveness While body size and shape certainly contribute to physical attractiveness, they are not the only factors, and they certainly are not the most important ones! How you present yourself in social settings also plays a big role. Are you outgoing and upbeat, with a friendly smile and welcoming posture that attracts people to you? Do you dress to impress, have a unique style, stand tall, and carry yourself with pride and confidence? All of these characteristics also contribute to your physical attractiveness. Imagine a pair of twins standing across the room. One is smiling and dancing and exuding a sense of confidence and openness. The other is standing with his/her arms crossed and has a disgusted, angry expression on his/her face. Which one would you think was more attractive?
Some Tips : Surround yourself with people who have a healthy relationship with food, weight, and their bodies. It will make a difference in how you feel about yourself. Also, remember to set a good example for others by refraining from “fat talk” when you’re with friends and family. Stop your negative thoughts and statements about yourself. Focus on what you love about yourself. Compliment yourself. Talk to your body the way you would talk to a good friend. Invest time and money in yourself, rather than the diet and supplement industry. Spend your extra money on flattering clothes, fitness equipment, haircuts, massages, and other personal indulgences--not on diets. Move and enjoy your body. Go walking, swimming, biking, and dancing. Do yoga, aerobics, and weight training…. not because you have to, but because it makes you feel strong and energized.
Reclaim your own inner strength. Focus on the unique qualities and personality traits that make you a special and successful person. Nurture your inner self. Enjoy things you find relaxing (e.g. music, bubble baths, fragrances, candles, massages, reading, writing, napping), be close to nature (e.g. garden, sunsets, beach, stars), and/or seek spiritual connection (e.g. prayer, meditation, inspirational reading, reflection). Feeling good on the inside is key to feeling good on the outside. Examine the degree to which your self-esteem depends upon your appearance. Although it may seem natural to wish you looked like a fashion model or a body builder, basing your happiness on this desire may lead to failure. Unrealistic goals can prevent you from exploring ways to enhance your life. Broaden your perspective. Talk to people you trust, read books about body image, or write in a journal. These activities may help you to recognize emotionally destructive thoughts and put body image into perspective. Recognize that “fat-ism” is a form of discrimination similar to sexism, racism, and classism. Assumptions that body shape determines attractiveness, personality, and success are incorrect and unjust. Combat discrimination when possible. Question assumptions and generalizations which promote the belief that one “type” of person is better than another.
Happiness It's not uncommon for people to think that they would be so much happier if only they could lose weight or have a more muscular physique. After all, our society equates thinness and extreme leanness with happiness. Logically then, people turn to diets as the solution to all their life problems. Unfortunately, however, weight is not the problem, and dieting is not the answer. True happiness comes from within. It comes from nurturing your soul and spirit with healthy relationships, communication, boundary setting, and relaxation. While finding true happiness internally can often result in better self-care of the external body (i.e. healthier eating and physical activity patterns), focusing only on the self-care of the external body will do nothing to heal the inside pain
Pay Attention – Listen to internal cues (i.e., hunger, satiety, fatigue). Appreciate Your Uniqueness – You are contributing to the human experience just by your presence. Be Accepting – Learn to Highlight your best features and to minimize those that bother you. People will notice the attractive parts of you when you highlight them and accept the others. No one is perfect!
Aw eso me W do I think of my .2C ent hat s! Body? Pennington Biomedical Research Center Division of Education www.pbrc.edu
This lesson will cover: Body image Self esteem and body image Body image acceptance Media influence Family and friends - influences Accepting your body Developing a healthy body image Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Body Image Are you happy what you see in the mirror? Your perception of how your body looks forms your body image. Body image can also be closely linked with self-esteem. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Self Esteem & Body Image Valuing oneself Affects behavior more in control of own behavior make friends easily will enjoy life more Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Body Image Regardless of how closely your actual figure resembles your perception, your body image can affect your self- esteem, your eating, grooming, exercise behaviors, and your relationships with others. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Body Image Body image - objective measures? Own versus others opinions Body image is most strongly affected during puberty. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Body Image In the Western societies such as US, there is a lot of emphasis placed on body weight, size, and overall physical appearance. (e.g. hair, symmetry of features, etc.) We are conditioned from a very young age to believe that self-worth is derived from these external physical characteristics, vs internal characteristics. (e.g. morals, values, altruism, intelligence, etc.) Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Body Image Satisfaction andPerception Girls: Most are not satisfied with their body. Majority are dissatisfied with their body shape and want to lose weight. Many do not perceive their body accurately. 1/3 cannot identify their weight correctly 2/3 can correctly identify themselves as being either normal weight or overweight Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Body Image Influences Other cultural attitudes African A - less drive for thinness and a greater acceptance of larger body proportions. Hispanics are more accepting of their body size. Asian women are more content with their body size. A mother’s weight, body image, attitude, and health habits are strong indicators of whether or not her daughter is overweight, satisfied with her body, and physically active. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Other Influences? Modern media, including: • Compact disc (CD) covers • Advertisements • Movies • Music videos • Television • Video games • Magazines Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Media Effects Media Reflects the unrealistic ideals of the current generation Uses whatever image best sells Reinforces perceptions of the human body Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Media Effects cont. Unrealistic standards for what is considered “normal.” Girls are indoctrinated to think they should to look like fashion models. Boys think that men naturally have bulging muscles. These body ideals are reinforced every day on TV shows, movies, magazine covers, and even video games. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Family and Friends There is pressure sometimes to be thin or super muscular in order to be accepted by peers and sometimes even family members. At school you are likely surrounded by negative “body talk”… in the bathroom, in the dining halls, in the locker room… (“Yuck! Look at my thighs…I’m so fat! I really need to go on a diet!”). Leads to feelings of self-consciousness about own body. Leads to thoughts about options (behaviors) to change the body. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Family and Friends cont. Family members may have made comments about their own weight and enforced food restrictions. Parents may have inadvertently sent messages that you need to be thin in order to be loved. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Athletics There may be pressure to: make a specific weight class (i.e. wrestling, crew, boxing), race faster (i.e. running, cycling), or weigh less in order to achieve a more difficult skill level as well appear attractive to the judges or audience (i.e. gymnastics, dance, cheerleading, figure skating). Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Health Professionals Weight and height measurements are routinely done at health clinics, and you are often assigned a certain label (“underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese”) based on these measurements. Your clinician may even encourage you to lose weight, to see a dietitian, or to consider drugs or surgery. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Health Professionals cont. Labeling by the medical community can affect your body image and self-esteem. You are affixed a label, if you fall outside the “normal” range. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Reality about weightmeasurements A “normal” weight person can actually be overfat. A high BMI may not necessarily indicate overfat. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Reality about weightmeasurements Keep in mind that your weight and body composition are determined by a number of factors. Under person’s control: dietary intake level of physical activity Cannot be controlled: body type bone structure the way you store fat other genetic variables Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Health and Fitness Body weight is different from body composition (i.e. how much is muscle, bone, or fat). Muscle is denser and weighs more than fat. Weight isn’t the best indicator of health and fitness. Your eating habits, exercise pattern, and metabolic measures are more important indicators of your health. Eat based on MyPyramid? Exercise 30-60 minutes a day? What are your cholesterol, iron, and glucose values? Do you sleep well and have energy during the day? Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Adolescent changes• Changes that accompany puberty, such as changes in appearance, ability, performance, and strength are all perfectly normal parts of growing up.• Seek help from trusted sources such as the parents, a school nurse, the family doctor. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Steps to take to have a good bodyimageStep 1. De-emphasize weight. Weight is not the problem, and dieting is not the answer. Weight doesn’t define who you are or what you are worth as a person. There is no such thing as one “ideal body weight” based on your height. There is a physiological limit to how muscular you can get naturally. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Beware– don’t compare! Step 2. Avoid comparison. Everyone develops differently and at different times. Avoid comparing yourself with celebrities and models. Celebrities’ images are touched up to enhance the appearance of the person in the picture. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Treat Your Body WellStep 3. Learn about healthy food choices and different exercises. Engage in physical activity. You may need to change your activity as you develop, there is an exercise for everyone. Experiment with different activities. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Befriend Your BodStep 4. Don’t stress out. Give yourself time. Don’t focus on minor imperfections. People will not notice them. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
W Tall– Even if You’re not! alk Step 5. What people do notice is how you project your feelings about yourself. Think tall. You will look strong. Work on good posture and walk with a sense of confidence. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Project Health: Inside and OutStep 6. Healthy is attractive. Take care of yourself. Present yourself well. Are you outgoing and upbeat, with a friendly smile and welcoming posture that attracts people to you? Do you dress to impress, have a unique style, stand tall, and carry yourself with pride and confidence? Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Invest in your well-beingStep 7. Surround yourself with people who have a healthy relationship with food, weight, and their bodies. Stop your negative thoughts and statements about yourself. Invest time and money in yourself, rather than the diet and supplement industry. Move and enjoy your body. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Reclaim and Build Your InnerSelfStep 8. Reclaim your own inner strength. Nurture your inner self. Examine the degree to which your self-esteem depends upon your appearance. Broaden your perspective. Recognize that “fat-ism” is a form of discrimination similar to sexism, racism, and classism. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Pursue HappinessStep 9. True happiness comes from within. It comes from nurturing your soul and spirit with healthy relationships, communication, boundary setting, and relaxation. Pennington Biomedical Research Center
And Finally: Step 10. Pay Attention – Listen to internal cues (i.e., hunger, satiety, fatigue). Appreciate Your Uniqueness – You are contributing to the human experience just by your presence. Be Accepting – Learn to Highlight your best features and to minimize those that bother you. People will notice the attractive parts of you when you highlight them and accept the others. No one is perfect! Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Conclusion Use objective measurements when assessing your shape and weight. Realize that models are very unique and have very different body dimensions. Learn to accept yourself. Check with your family and friends to get affirmation. Enjoy your food but learn to listen to your body. Emphasize your good points. Everyone has some! Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Authors: Division of Education Heli Roy, PhD, RD Phillip Brantley, PhD, Director Shanna Lundy, BS Pennington Biomedical Research Center Reviewed by: Tiffany Stewart, Steven Heymsfield, MD, Executive PhD DirectorVISIONOur vision is to lead the world in eliminating chronic diseases.MISSIONOur mission is to discover the triggers of chronic diseases through innovative research that improves human health across the lifespan. We arehelping people live Well Beyond the Expected.The Pennington Center has several research areas, including:Clinical Obesity ResearchExperimental ObesityFunctional FoodsHealth and Performance EnhancementNutrition and Chronic DiseasesNutrition and the BrainDementia, Alzheimer’s and healthy agingDiet, exercise, weight loss and weight loss maintenanceThe research fostered in these areas can have a profound impact on healthy living and on the prevention of common chronic diseases, such asheart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis.The Division of Education provides education and information to the scientific community and the public about research findings, trainingprograms and research areas, and coordinates educational events for the public on various health issues.We invite people of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the exciting research studies being conducted at the Pennington Center in BatonRouge, Louisiana. If you would like to take part, visit the clinical trials web page at www.pbrc.edu or call (225) 763-3000. Visit our Web Site: www.pbrc.edu Pennington Biomedical Research Center