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Body Image

When you look in the mirror what do you see? Does the mirror reflect back confidence, comfort, or happiness? Or does the reflection become a window into a cycle of self-deprecation?

The way that we talk about ourselves is so important. For a lot of us, negative self-talk stems from childhood experiences in which others made observations- benign or malicious- about how we look.

Why do you look like that?

Watch what you eat if you want to wear that outfit.

What’s that on your face?

There are nonverbal actions that can also inform us about how others see us and impact how we see ourselves.

Having someone buy or pick out clothing in sizes that are different than what you wear.

Being served smaller portions than others or intentionally deprived of food that others are partaking in.

This information, be it verbal or nonverbal can be hurtful and damaging to our confidence, our self-esteem. It can influence how much we participate in the world. It can flood us with self-doubt, social anxiety, unhealthy relationships with diet and exercise. It can even lead to self-harming behavior and suicide.

The world reinforces the idea that we should be trying to change or fix things about our appearance. Cosmetic surgery, masking gray hair, anti-aging skin care, makeup, hair removal, implants, teeth whitening, weight loss, style trends, the list goes on. We see these things reinforced in social media, shopping, magazines, ads, tv, through friends. From so many directions we are asked to measure and compare ourselves.

How much of your self worth is influenced by your body image? Working with a therapist or psychologist can help you unpack the negative self-talk about how you see yourself. Therapy can guide you to identify core beliefs that are rooted in your body image. Core beliefs shape our reality and view of the world. For example, if you believe, “I am unattractive”, a therapist will help you to understand how this impedes things like social engagement or intimacy. The way we talk about ourselves is important and reflects information about our self-image. The world we live in often makes it hard to think positively about ourselves but a therapist can help you see yourself in a new and better way.

Written by:

Lauren Pena MFT, ATR, LMFT # 130687

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