Body image, like self-image, refers to a person’s perception of their own body and how this perception makes them feel. Body image is not objective. We may look at another person and think there is only one way to see their body, but people who suffer from body image disorders have a distorted perception of their appearance.
- Anxiety and depression related to appearance
- Obsessing over a single perceived flaw in appearance
- Spending excessive time looking in mirrors
- Excessive grooming and exercise
It’s possible that physical abnormalities can cause body dysmorphia. There are also sociological hypotheses about the effects of a cultural overemphasis on physical appearance and beauty. Fear of and prevalence of obesity in a society have been shown to predict occurrence of body image disorders. There are also theories that mass media can play a role in exposing young people to a distorted perception of the world and can lead to a psychological obsession with perfection.
The physical and behavioral aspects of body image disorders can be treated by teaching healthy means of exercise and the importance of eating a balanced and proper diet. The psychological aspects can be treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, in which a psychotherapist aims to find the underlying beliefs that cause the client distress and restructure these beliefs as the client adjusts their body image.