Negative Body Image and Its Effects on Self-Esteem

How you think and feel about your body has an influence on your personal and social well-being. Here we talk about the influence of negative body image and how to combat it.
Negative Body Image and Its Effects on Self-Esteem

Last update: 09 August, 2021

Do you avoid looking in the mirror so you don’t have to stare at your reflection? Do you feel uncomfortable in activities that involve showing your body in public, such as swimming at the beach or the pool? Are your sexual relationships unsatisfying because you’re not happy with your physique? Negative body image can generate a lot of emotional discomfort.

If this happens, it can affect your self-esteem and, therefore, your day-to-day life; for this reason, it’s important to know what body image means and how you can modify it.

Body image doesn’t refer to physical appearance but to the way each individual perceives their body. Many people in their later years, when looking at photographs of their youth, wonder how it’s possible that they thought about their body in a negative way when they were in good physical shape: subjectivity plays a really important role.

So what is negative body image?

A girl smiling as she looks at herself in the mirror.
Everybody has a mental representation of their body that can be positive or negative.

Body image is the mental representation a person has of their body. It’s the internal picture they have of themselves on a physical level and how they think others perceive them. It is, first and foremost, a subjective representation that includes the thoughts, attitudes and emotions that the individual has about their body.

When this body image is realistic and balanced, and allows the person to feel comfortable in their body, it can be said to be positive. On the other hand, a negative body image is one that’s poorly adjusted to reality and leads the person to feel uncomfortable, anxious and ashamed of their physique.

Consequences of a negative body image for self-esteem

Self-esteem is a person’s subjective appraisal of their worth. It’s the value you place on yourself based on your perceived characteristics, and the way you feel, behave and relate to others depends on it.

For the same reason, good self-esteem is fundamental if you want to enjoy good social relationships and personal well-being.

Self-esteem is closely related to body image. Thus, a person who perceives their body in a positive way will have higher self-esteem than someone who has a negative perception of their image.

It’s hard to deny that physical image is becoming more and more important in society and that people judge both themselves and others based on it. People with a negative body image perceive themselves as insufficient or inadequate in relation to socially accepted standards.

Because of all of this, their self-esteem decreases. This can lead to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and a series of other complications.

Symptoms of negative body image

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