Thursday, January 08, 2009
When most people think about body image they think about physical appearance, being attractive and beautiful. But it is more than that. It is the mental picture we have of our body as well as any thoughts, feelings, and judgments. Through our interactions with people and the society, we develop our body image. Itís our mental picture of ourselves.
When we feel bad about our body, we become dissatisfied and can become unhappy or depressed. If we are constantly trying to push, reshape or remake our bodies, our sense of self can become unhealthy. Itís not uncommon for people who think poorly of their bodies to have issues in other areas of their lives.
Body-image distortion occurs when a person's view of their body is significantly different from reality. This is something I have become very aware that I am struggling with. In my head logically I know I have lost weight and yet when I look in the mirror, I don't necessarily see that weight loss. When I go shopping for clothes, I don't automatically pull out the smaller size clothes because wearing a size 2 or 4 does not compute. I can't possibly fit in that small thing. I am constantly shocked when I do try clothes on and have them not fit.
I scoffed at my rheumatologist who was letting me know that I didn't need to lose any more weight since I had nothing left to lose on my upper torso. Again this didn't make sense in my reality. Today I had a mammogram (which came out fine by the way!). In the room there was a full length mirror and it is the first time I have seen myself (we don't have a full length mirror in the house - never wanted one for a good reason!). I saw what my doctor was saying - there is ribs, there is no muscles, I have no hips. Yes I need to tone but do I need to lose any more weight? Nah.
I came home to talk with my husband about this since he has the same issue but coming from the opposite spectrum. He is 120 pounds (dripping wet) at 5'7 1/2". He comes from petite stock. He doesn't see himself as super skinny and yet is constantly confronted with it by society. He is penalized by insurance companies for being underweight without any investigation to his genetics (his mom is 4'10 and 80 pounds, sis is 5 ft and 100). He is constantly being told to gain weight. You would think considering he is in his early 50's, they would have figured out his weight isn't going anywhere. He has gained 10 pounds that he put on with my help over the last 15 years.
So my plan of action: to continue to work on toning up. To work on making the image in my head congruent with the reality of my body. Invest in a darn mirror and take some pictures so I can SEE myself through someone else's eyes besides my own.
What about you - anybody else have this issue? What do you see in the mirror?