Body Image Tests: How Is Your Body Image?

Wikipedia: Body image is a term which may refer to our perceptions of our own physical appearance or our internal sense of having a body which is constructed by the brain. Essentially a person's body image is how they perceive their exterior to look, and in many cases this can be dramatically different to how they actually appear to others ... Negative feelings towards a person's body can in some cases lead to mental disorders such as depression or eating disorders, though there can be a variety of different reasons why these disorders can occur. Within the media industry there have recently been popular debates focusing on how size zero models can negatively influence young people into feeling insecure about their own body image.
Read in full here.How is your body image? Take this test and see how you score:
Net Doctor's Body Image Test

BODY IMAGE: Are you imagining the wrong body?

Article by Nancy Clark, MS, RD:
In general, women seem more dissatisfied with their appearance than men. Women most commonly complain about their thighs, abdomen, breast, and buttocks while men are dissatisfied with their abdomen, upper body, and balding hair. Sometimes, the problem is imaginary, such as the runner who complains about her fat thighs, or the bikini wearer whose stomach is not absolutely flat. Sometimes, the problem is real and ranges from a mild complaint about cellulite to a major preoccupation with "thunder thighs" that results in relentless dieting and exercise akin to punishment.
More likely than not, you have at least one body part that bothers you. The following body image test may uncover the extent of your concerns:
  1. List five body parts in order of dissatisfaction and write exactly what you don't like about their appearance. For example:
    • Thighs too fat
    • Breasts too small
    • Teeth crooked
    • Facial skin wrinkled
    • Stomach protrudes
  2. Write out how you normally describe these parts when you are looking in the mirror (i.e., disgusting flabby thighs) and notice if your body talk is negative and self-critical, or objective and neutral.
  3. To what extent do you feel embarrassed or self-conscious about your appearance around others? Do you imagine others are checking you out and thinking something negative about you because of your appearance? Do you avoid wearing a bathing suit at beaches and swimming pools?
  4. Note the ways you feel ashamed of your body part and have tried to change or improve its appearance (i.e., liposuction, baggy "cover-up" clothes, rigorous exercise). Have you dieted in an unhealthy way? Smoked cigarettes to control weight? Spent hours at the gym in the name of vanity, not health improvement?
  5. Think about how you feel about your appearance. Do any of these emotions come to mind:
    • Dissatisfied
    • Insecure
    • Distressed
    • Obsessed
    • Embarrassed
  6. Is your appearance too far up on the list of factors that define who you are? Do you consider yourself to be “fat” as opposed to intelligent, caring, a good worker, loving mother, or reliable friend?
  7. Take a deep breath and relax. Appearance is only skin deep. Your real worth is the love, caring, and concern you have to offer to your family, friends, and peers. No one is going to comment on the imperfections of your body at your funeral. However, people will remember you for the beauty of your life. Practice loving yourself from the inside out, rather than judging yourself from the outside in.
Body Image and Eating Disorders
Even active, fit people – those who religiously workout at the health club or run in the wee hours of the morning – are not immune from the epidemic of body dissatisfaction. Despite their fitness, many perceive themselves as having unacceptable bodies. Some go on to develop unhealthy eating patterns and eating disorders out of desperation.
According to Dr. James Rosen, body image researcher and psychology professor at the University of Vermont in Burlington, women who develop eating disorders tend to hate their bodies. In fact, the best predictor of who will develop an eating disorder relates to who struggles most with body image. This easily includes women fighting the “middle age spread”, young dancers experiencing body changes at the time of puberty, runners feeling pressure to be thinner, and group exercise leaders who think every student scrutinizes her every bulge.
How to find peace with your body
If you are dissatisfied with your body, you might think the solution is to lose weight, pump iron, or do thousands of sit-ups. Unlikely. This "outside" approach to correcting body dissatisfaction tends to be inadequate. The better approach is to learn to love the body you have. After all, so much of what you look like (your height, musculature, and some of your weight) is under genetic influence. Yes, you can slightly redesign the house Mother Nature gave you, but you can't totally remodel it ... at least not without paying a high price.

Weight issues are often self-esteem issues. Concern about what you look like is really a mask for how you feel about yourself, your self-esteem. Given about twenty-five percent of self-esteem is tied-up in how you look, you can't feel good about yourself unless you like your body and feel confident with your appearance.
Ideally, what you look like on the outside should have little to do with how you feel on the inside. But, in reality, the thinking goes like this:
  1. I have a defect that makes me different than others.
  2. Other people notice this difference.
  3. My looks affect how these people see me ... repulsive, ugly.
  4. I'm bad, unlovable, and inadequate.
If you are struggling with your body image, Dr. Rosen suggests you identify when you first got the message that something is wrong with your body.
Perhaps it was:
  • a parent who way-back-when lovingly remarked, "You look good, honey, but if only you'd lose a few pounds, you might get a better job...",
  • the siblings who teased you about your "thunder thighs", or
  • the relative who molested you. (Sexual abuse is a common cause of body-hate).
Next, you need to take steps to be at peace with your body and to like yourself.
This includes:
  • Renaming your disliked body part (i.e., "round stomach" is a more loving name than "ugly jelly belly"),
  • Identifying the parts of your body that you do like and giving yourself credit for those with positive body talk. (My muscular legs help me enjoy bike rides with my children.)
Don't dwell on the negative, but instead love all the good things your body does for you. It bears children; lets you do meaningful work that can make a difference in the world; and lets you have fun. How could you enjoy life without your body?
A Resolution
The following contract is taken from the National Eating Disorders Association’s Declaration of Independence from Weight Obsessions.
I, the undersigned, do hereby declare that from this day forward I will choose to live my life by the following tenets. In doing so, I declare myself free and independent from the pressures and constraints of the weight-obsessed world.
  • I will accept my body in its natural shape and size.
  • I will celebrate all that my body can do for me each day.
  • I will treat my body with respect, give it rest, fuel it with a variety of foods, exercise it moderately, and listen to what it needs.
  • I will choose to resist our society’s pressures to judge myself and other people on physical characteristics like body weight, shape, or size. I will respect people based on the depth of their character and the impact of their accomplishments.
  • I will refuse to deny my body of valuable nutrients by dieting or using weight loss products.
  • I will avoid categorizing foods as “good” or “bad”. I will not associate guilt or shame with eating certain foods. Instead, I will nourish my body with a balance of foods, listening and responding to what it needs.
  • I will not use food to mask my emotional needs.
  • I will not avoid participating in activities that I enjoy (e.g., swimming, dancing, enjoying a meal) simply because I am self-conscious about the way my body looks. I will recognize that I have the right to enjoy any activities regardless of my body shape or size.
  • I will believe that my self-esteem and identity come from within.

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mariasol said...

Great post. I was going to write something related, but a little different: size perception. I can not understand how Kimmer could claim to be 5'6" and 118 lbs. I am the exact height and was at that weight until I turned 45 or so, and I was very skinny. But I have small bones and was never more than 20 pounds heavier in my entire life. A big boned person like Kimmer claims she is, having been 318 lbs, would look like a skeleton at 118. Certainly nothing like the lady in the red dress.

MrsMenopausal said...

Thanks Mariasol.
I guess you can claim anything when you're not telling the truth. Heidi knows how to scam, that's for sure. The red dress pic was so far fetched that I can't believe I fell for it.