Body image issues are more common now than they have been in years past. Studies have revealed that there is a strong correlation between newer media and an increase in body image issues. Traditional media such as magazines and commercials were the culprit of body image issues two decades ago, but technology has evolved. New media such as the internet, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat have significantly increased the number of reported body image issues in teenagers, female and male. Adults are not exempt, body image results for the over 18 group have also been climbing.
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What Causes Poor Body Image
Internet usage plays a huge role in modern, everyday life. Users are constantly bombarded with photos of air-brushed, filtered, unrealistic images of people from around the world. These images create unrealistic ideals that many people actively strive to recreate. Real-life is not airbrushed, so this will inevitably lead to body image issues.
Other causes of poor body image can come from being teased as a child or having a parent who constantly encourages weight loss in their child. Teenage years can also wreak havoc on self-esteem, as females are expected to be rail-thin and males are supposed to be lean but muscular.
High numbers of men and women report poor body image and low self-esteem. Body image issues can easily snowball into bigger issues involving self-harm, substance abuse, and eating disorders.
Men’s Body Image Issues
Many people believe that body image issues are only found in women, but that’s not the case. Men spending time on the internet constantly see airbrushed six-packs, V-shaped stomachs, have body image issues that include a constant comparison to other men, long hours spent at the gym, and the constant feeling of not being attractive enough.
Women’s Body Image Issues
Health and beauty companies thrive on the insecurities of women, and they market their products specifically for that reason. Females in commercials and online are unnaturally skinny, have flawless skin and do not age. Many women feel as though they have to embody these unnatural traits, much to the detriment of their health. Excessive dieting, spending hundreds of dollars on beauty products, use of laxatives or diet pills are all indications that a female has an unhealthy body image.
Effects Of Body Image Issues In Men And Women
Poor body image issues will develop into unhealthy lifestyles when not treated. People suffering from these issues are unhappy, depressed, and emotionally unstable. Sometimes these issues go unrecognized, but many times they will reveal themselves in detrimental behaviors.
- Eating Disorders
Body image issues can have lifelong effects on men and women, including the development of eating disorders. Women are constantly being urged to be unnaturally thin, which leads some to diet excessively. Dieting methods such as fasting or laxatives are unhealthy ways in which women try to lose weight as quickly as possible. Eating disorders can easily develop as they try desperately to lose weight by unhealthy means.
Men also try unhealthy means to reach an ideal body weight by extreme dieting or spending hours at the gym trying to look like air-brushed models. The opposite of women, men feel that they are never big enough and try to gain abnormal amounts of muscle weight. This lean, muscular ideal that is trying to be achieved can also lead to eating disorders.
Deliberate self-harm typically indicates underlying conditions, one of them being poor body image. Low self-esteem can cause individuals to begin to self-harm. This can include cutting, burning, or scratching the surface of the skin. It has been theorized that poor body image is a form of self-loathing that creates a desire to do harm to oneself. Negative emotions arising from low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety can all cause self-harming behaviors.
- Substance Abuse
Men and women with body image issues are unhappy with themselves and try to find ways to cope. One method used to numb their emotions is turning to drugs or alcohol. Instead of dealing with stress in a healthy manner, these individuals find solace in the numbing effects of an unhealthy substance. Experimenting with these substances can lead to chronic and uncontrolled use.
If you or a loved one is suffering from body image issues, it’s important that you find help as soon as possible. Unhealthy body image issues can lead to unhealthy and detrimental behaviors that can have lifelong effects. Stopping these behaviors before they begin is the best way to treat them.