Having a poor body image is nothing new, and I guess for most of us it becomes apparent around puberty. We all know that societal norms, pressures to be perfect, lovable, and accepted by our peers are triggers to strive for body perfection. We don’t want to be bullied or teased for our looks or weight shape and size. We want to be desirable, loved and attractive. We commend each other for the will power of sticking to an unhealthy diet.
We use the scales as a measure of health.
Foods become good or bad, and we feel guilty for being hungry or enjoying our favourite foods.
The image we see in the mirror does not reflect reality; well the reality of how other people view us.
We are so hard on ourselves.
The self-talk can be so destructive.
Creating a vicious circle where the thought becomes an emotion or feeling that we end up creating negative behaviours.
This could be thoughts like, thinking you are not good enough, which creates a feeling of anxiety and despair, leading to unhealthy behaviours of dieting, exercising excessively, binging on food after restricting and then feeling guilty for eating, self-harm, and withdrawing socially.
Because I work in the area of eating disorders, I am really interested in people’s stories of how they feel about their bodies, how long they have had these thoughts and feelings and if they have worked through the negative talk, or if they are still invested in it.
I asked some friends to tell me their stories of their battles with body image.
These stories are based on a question that I asked on my Facebook page
"How would you describe your own body image? Has it changed over the years? Better worse? And if better what changes mentally/ physically happened? And does your relationship with your body impact what you eat?"
Thank you for contributing my lovely friends.
Look out for my next blog about how to improve your body image.
It's not how the world sees you, its how you see yourself.
Trigger warning, this may upset you.
"I’ve always had poor body image but luckily have never starved myself nor overeaten due to this. I still have ongoing body dysmorphia which I work on every single day!!!
6 months of counselling has helped but not cured me...
I tend to care less what others think of me now I'm older but I still judge myself how I look and recently I have gain more weight than id like so this has been hard! I am though in no way bulimic or anorexic but my mind has a lot to work on"
"I suffered from terrible mental health due to an extremely poor body image during my late teens to early twenties and lost an awful lot of weight due to not eating, which in turn had a detrimental effect on my journey to try and regain my mental health and emotional wellness. It became a vicious cycle. It wasn’t until my mid to late twenties that I faced some internal demons that helped me address some deep-seeded issues and it would be safe to say I no longer starve myself (which was a form of control) in fact, I adore good food and am now pleasantly plump and certainly content.
I had to go through the shitty stuff to get to here though."
"Ironically I started eating heaps after being teased for being too skinny, lol just forgot to stop. I got a gastric band I only felt happy about it (body) when I had the band and got to *kg and could wear what I wanted and buy nice bras"
"I grew up with an amazing mom who always tried to make me and my sisters love our bodies and our features, she also rarely let junk food or soda in the house unless we were at camp on weekends when we were a bit older or it was Christmas. She always cooked everything from scratch and had a ton of vegetables in everything. She always taught us to only put on our plate when we were hungry enough to eat. She always made sure we are a decent amount but never forced us to eat a lot of we weren’t super hungry. In saying that my sisters and I grew up pretty healthy I would say, so didn’t struggle with weight issues from a health perspective. However, as a young girl, I was extremely self-conscious about my body and always wanted to be thinner. I went through phases where I would try to not eat or eat a lot less, but it never stuck because I love food but always secretly thought “ I wish I could be anorexic”. Not to look paper-thin or boney but so I could have better self-control overeating so I could lose weight. As a 30-year-old the last 5 years my body has drastically changed into how everything sits on my body, how my body reacts to food, and also what I eat and how I don’t make as much time for food or food prep anymore. The last few years I think I’ve struggled more with body issues then I was in my teens. I have a lot of guilt that I don’t work out or have a flat tummy or always eat healthily. I look at other women my age who are skinny or fit who have had children and it brings me shame to look at my body and think “ wasted potential”. I have never had a boyfriend/partner ever say I was too fat or too skinny. Nor friends. Boys have always complimented me on my body, figure, ass. Whenever I have confided in my Boyfriend that I’m unhappy about my body and how I look, he has always encouraged me to go for walks or do yoga because he knows those make me happy. He’s never said I should lose weight only “ if your unhappy try to get outside and go for a walk or hike, those always make us happy when we do that” he always talks about it in a “to make you happy, “. Because that’s always my solution to him when he’s not happy or feeling down “ get outside and get some exercise and fresh air it will make you feel better”
"I had a lot of issues... Used to think an apple a day was all I need. Then I go to Real work and I discover I don't have enough energy so I eat more. Get thicker, not ok with it at all, to thé point I make myself vomit After meals. So I put oversized clothes but in thé end, I still see myself. So I look in thé mirror, go to exercise, it doesn't change a thing. So I often skip meals to stay thinner because that's thé way we are taught in France (eat a little bit). Go into a circle of a lot of Winters and not summers going back often and I realised that when I go back to France, I missed thé food so much that I don't count and I still lose weight and I wonder how it is possible? I réalisé it because in France I don't snack at all and everything is about getting outdoors so I exercise without going hard on it. Still have thé occasion Al issue but feel better now"
I've lost *kg since 1/3/20. I've gone from a * to a *. Still on the losing weight track, just slower now. I know that I should feel better and my body image and to a degree I do, however, I'm still stuck in the fat person headspace. I see myself as the size * girl. I know I've lost lots of weight and my tummy flatter, I just can't really see it and process it. I feel like people look at me and see a fat girl. It's like body dysmorphia perhaps. The only time I really saw the change and acknowledged it was when I put an old pic next to a new one. I've battled depression for years. It really started after my marriage when my husband started seeing someone while we were still together. He drummed into me that I was fat and ugly and no one would ever want me. He would email things like articles about the benefits of surgery on morbidly obese people. I'm on keto. Sometimes I tell myself it's ok to have a little of something non-keto and I don't kick myself for it which is good. I'm still stuck in looking at the numbers on the scales even though people say not to. That inches change. Your body changes. If the scales don't go down then I get a bit down and feel like I need to restrict myself. I'm conscious of that because I don't want some kind of eating disorder to kick in and I feel that could quite easily happen. I do lazy keto so I don't count carbs, I just eat keto foods and roll with it."