Body image affects mental health

By Fio del Pielago

People view their bodies through body image, the subjective picture or mental image of one’s own body. Body image may not seem like an important topic, but the way one perceives their body can affect their self-esteem and mental health.

Body image can vary from a healthy and positive image to a negative and unhealthy body image. Just as the name implies, a positive body image entails that one loves their body and are confident; however, a negative body image entails that one is uncomfortable in their own skin.

Health teacher, Elizabeth Herr expressed, “It’s not always easy because it’s teen nature to compare themselves. I think it is important to understand how images can be distorted using photoshop, a lot of us know that but we don’t always think about it.”

Although we may not think of it much, social media is one of the leading causes of negative body images. With editing softwares and apps such as Photoshop, a large portion of what is posted on social media has been edited or altered in some way to achieve a certain look.  

Most teenagers are aware that photos may be photoshopped, yet they continue to compare their body and life to those who are on social media. Teens keep returning to social media due to a fear of missing out, just to come back to scroll endlessly while comparing their bodies to fake ones online.

It is important for people to realize they do not need to have a “perfect” body to have a positive body image. When a person starts liking their body is when they start to have a positive body image as well as boost their self-esteem.

An important thing for people to remember about establishing a positive body image is to accept and compliment their bodies, rather than putting themselves down.

Herr believes there are a variety of healthy habits for people with a negative body image to adapt in order to start having a positive mindset. These ways include, “Taking care of your body. Not to achieve a body shape, but to be healthy and comfortable in your own skin. Focus on strengths, while it’s not uncommon to point out flaws it’s important to realize your strengths.”

Body image can greatly affect one’s mental health and cause unhealthy coping mechanisms. This can be avoided if people start to look at their bodies and be proud of what they look like.