Negative-body-image

Selfie Game Strong: Body Image The Biggest Loser

Has our selfie obsession exacerbated women’s body image disorders?

RELATED: Sex Selfies: Has Social Media Gone Too Far?

Millennials, who are said to follow Generation X, aren’t called the “selfie-generation” for nothing. But has all the pouting, posing, sexting and twerking – often in a bikini – helped or hindered our body confidence?
I find it a fascinating topic: call me a dinosaur (I am Gen-X), but I’m always a little dismayed and mystified when I see someone I admire – friends included – constantly posting selfies of themselves in a bikini on Twitter or Instagram, for example.
I love looking at beautiful bodies – who doesn’t? – but is this where we are in 2015 that women have to be seen to be posting near-naked pics of themselves via social media in order to be considered successful or desirable?
Unless you’re body is your business, ala a model, why do women need to do it? Is it the psychological buzz of garnering “likes”? Do people really need ego boosts and validation, mostly from perfect strangers, via social media that badly?

selfies, selfie generation, body image, body image disorders

A 20-something woman I follow on Instagram, who recently launched her own business, recently posted endless pics of herself reclining on a bed, clad only in skimpy lingerie. Erm, why?!
Does popularity via social media mean more to millennials than possessing class, style, grace and good taste?
And how can self-proclaimed positive body image commentators reconcile themselves with the fact that they repeatedly post pictures themselves in little more than a bikini on social media?
Questions, questions…For answers, I consulted Christine Morgan, CEO of the Butterfly Foundation and National Director of The National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC).
Christine says the advent of social media has only worsened our body image issues and insecurities.
“Men and women are impacted by a daily barrage of opinions on how they should look, dress and behave. The introduction of social media has only accelerated and intensified these issues, to the extent that sharing images that objectify your physical shape and size is a normal activity on social media,” she says.
“I worry that users of social media platforms have intensified the importance they place on size and shape and that body image anxiety amongst Gen Y and now our millennial generation is at critical levels.
“For Gen Y and millennials, social media is their world, and can provide an unchecked unfiltered environment for those who are promoting ideal body image.
“Young people are never without a mobile device, and are only ever a minute away from checking multiple platforms to stay in touch with their social circles. Currently, we have a detrimental trend of achieving recognition on social media through ‘likes’, or by using more and more gratuitous images to solicit positive feedback from social groups. This is intensifying the need to connect social popularity with adoration of physical shape and size.”

selfies, selfie generation, body image, body image disorders

And while social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, could have a far-reaching positive impact on positive body image promotion, this far from the case in reality.
Christine says much more work needs to be done to build online communities of support and resilience for people suffering mental health and social issues.  In addition, she says safety practices online are paramount, as is education: teaching teens and young adults that celebrity bodies are “almost unattainable under normal circumstances”.
“Sadly, they [social media platforms] are also used to curate dangerous photos, images and information that can have immediate and devastating impacts on vulnerable people,” she says.
“These images [of celebrities] on social media can be especially dangerous when a vulnerable person uses them as a reference point for their own physical shape and size.
“Selfies can be fun, however they are having an unintended consequence. They have become the lens in which the obsession with ideal body shape and size is now judged. These are infectious by nature, and when used negatively by key influencers can reinforce a person’s negative body image feelings about their own shape, size or appearance.
“These can cause vulnerable individuals with a negative body image to descend even further and lead them to believe that their success or acceptance is dependent on having a particular body shape and size. This type of selfie culture can also increase the fear of being judged by individuals and takes advantage of competitive mentality to drive people to even more destructive behaviours.”

selfies, selfie generation, body image, body image disorders

If you need help and support, phone the Butterfly Foundation National Supportline on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or visit thebutterflyfoundation.org.au, or email its online support centre via support@thebutterflyfoundation.org.au.
Images, in order, via www.linkedin.com; knote.com; thebaccrag.com and blog.childrens.com.

What do you think? Are selfies going too far?

 

 

February 19, 2015

Overcoming Sexual Anxiety

Sexually confident women are a big turn-on for most men. However, society has taught us to suppress sexual urges and conversations. Particularly for women, talking about sex can be difficult and the mere thought of performing some sexual behavior, sends them hunting for a Valium. In reality, there should be nothing stopping you from talking about sex with your partner or having an awesome sex life.

Psychologists have identified a cycle of anxiety. Below is an image to help you understand how your thoughts, impact your behavior.

anxiety-cycle

There are a couple of methods that you can easily do yourself which will reduce all sorts of sexual anxiety. For example, you might want to try role play or initiate a bit of bondage, but it’s way too far outside your comfort zone. Exposure Therapy (ET) and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) combined will work a treat and you will well on your way to becoming sexual confident.

Firstly, EP is all about exposing yourself to things you fear. In this case, it’s some aspect of sexual conversation or behavior. Your partner will already know that there are things which push your boundaries, so it’s time to talk to them about it. If this is where the fear lies, this will give you an excellent opportunity to expose yourself to that fear. If you’re not sure how to begin the conversation, we have an example:

“I’d really like to talk to you about something. I get anxious when we talk about sex or when we want to do certain things. It makes me really nervous, but I’d like to do something about it. I’ve got a few things I’d like to try, so could you help me work through it?

It’s recommended if you have a partner to talk to them about it so they can support you through it. If you are single and want to become more sexually confident you can still achieve it, however the CBT element will be equally as important as ET.

To begin ET, not the alien type although it might feel like it, start with a goal; say erotic role play and introducing fantasy play into your sex life. Instead of jumping feet first, begin gradually by exposing yourself to things you find slightly uncomfortable. This may be talking about what you want, sexually. As you find this becomes easier, take it to the next level and so on, until you reach your goal. Having that goal gives you something to work toward. When you achieve it, set yourself another goal. It’s that simple and it does work.

While you are using EP to alter your behavior, you can also work on what’s happening in your head. What are the thoughts which are stopping you from achieving your goal? Is it body image? Is it something from your past? This is where the CBT element comes into play.

CBT is about recognising your thoughts, becoming more self-aware and rationalising these thoughts to alter behaviour. For example, we’ll use erotic roleplay again. There must be something which you find intimidating about it. Is it fear of what your partner will think of you? Is it the fear of what you think of yourself? Whatever it is, there is a fear of something associated with the activity. Below is an example of a CBT chart for you to follow.

Slide1As you can see, the result of CBT is to change your negative self talk into positive self talk. The power of telling yourself things over and over until you firmly believe them is underestimated. After-all, you have talked yourself into being sexually anxious, so you can talk yourself out of it as-well!

If you follow these two simple techniques, you will be well on your way to become the sex goddess you know is hidden somewhere deep inside you. If you are still struggling to overcome your anxieties, visiting a sex therapist could help you. Everyone deserves a thriving sex life, so don’t let sexual anxiety stop you from exploring your sexuality and having a great sex life!

Images via ahealthyclick.com and greymatterspsychotherapy.co.uk

November 20, 2014

Embrace, Don’t Disgrace, Your Pregnant Body

It is no surprise that we gain weight when we’re pregnant – we’re growing a human being inside of our body, so it’s only natural that the numbers on the scales are going to increase over time and those pants are going to get tighter by the day. A lot of women struggle with their body image when they are pregnant, for a number of reasons. Perhaps they were athletic and slim before pregnancy and now that’s all changed, or maybe they were even slightly overweight before they fell pregnant, and now the weight gain has just compounded the issue.

Whatever the reason is that women feel so poorly about their body during pregnancy, it is not the time to be negative about it. Women should try to celebrate the fact they’re carrying a child and embrace the change that comes with it. As well as weight gain there are a whole lot of other changes going in in your body too, but it’s not all bad. Here’s why:

Until after you’ve given birth to your baby you don’t have to worry about your dreaded period and if you breastfeed then it’s normally even longer before it graces you with its presence again. I can’t say I know any women who enjoy that time of the month, so this is definitely something to be happy about when you’re pregnant.

Since your body is getting larger you don’t have to try and squeeze into those tight skinny jeans anymore. Loose fitting and comfortable clothes are a pregnant woman’s best friend and they can still look great too. Maxi dresses are brilliant for pregnant women – they are comfortable whilst still looking fabulous.

When your baby is big enough you’ll start to feel those wonderful first movements which will only get stronger and more frequent as your due date draws closer. Protruding elbows or tiny feet pushing up under your ribs can be painful but there’s nothing better and more reassuring than seeing your baby move.

If you’re normally flat chested and have always wondered what you’d look like with larger breasts, then pregnancy is the time you’ll definitely find out. Because of increased blood volume in your body you’ll notice larger breasts from very early on in the pregnancy and as long as they’re not too painful, embrace the change and enjoy them while they last.

Whilst you’re pregnant there’s no need to use any birth control and it can be a welcome change for those of us who constantly forget to take the pill. Thank goodness it’s one less thing to worry about, especially with the dreaded baby brain.

During pregnancy a lot of women are lucky to have significant improvement in the quality of their hair and nails. Thicker and fuller hair as well as stronger nails are a bonus when you’re expecting.

Sex can be better when you’re expecting. Because of an increased blood flow to the pelvic area some women say that their sex is more satisfying, so that’s definitely something to be happy about.

So if you’re finding pregnancy tough on your body, try and think of the positives. And remember, it’s not forever, and a small price to pay for the bundle of joy you’ll be blessed with in the end.

Image via pregnancyandbaby.com

August 6, 2014

How To Develop A Better Body Image

There’s not a woman alive who doesn’t experience a love-hate relationship with her body at times, even if it’s merely fleeting. We all have “fat days” – when how we perceive our bodies doesn’t often equal the image in the mirror. “Wow, you look great!” a loved one might say. “Ugh, really?” you respond, grimacing at yourself in the mirror. “If only I was thinner, bustier and less curvy…” and so the list continues.

And in this pursuit of self-improvement and unattainable perfection, in 2012, Australian women are said to have spent $850 million on modifying their looks and bodies. Australia’s leading organisation for eating disorders and body image, the Butterfly Foundation, says poor body image is significantly linked to dieting. In addition, dieting is the major factor in the development of disordered eating, eating disorders and a significant contributing factor in the development of obesity.

Butterfly Foundation CEO Christine Morgan stressed the critical importance of prevention and early intervention strategies in limiting the development of, and suffering from, negative body image and eating disorders. “Body image is not what we look like – it is how we feel about how we look,” Ms Morgan says. “Someone with positive body image is comfortable in their own skin. Conversely, someone with negative body image is often dissatisfied and fixated on trying to change their actual body shape.

“Unfortunately, in many instances negative body image descends even further and the person suffering from it believes they will not be successful or worthwhile, so long as they have that body shape and size. Pretty heavy stuff for most people; almost unmanageable if those thoughts are striking in the teen or primary school years.”

So, how do we teach our sons and daughters to have a positive body image? How do we, as mothers, curb our own issues so as to help our kids? “There are a number of pressures within our society that can contribute to negative body image and parents need to be mindful of everyday talk at home about food, body shape and self-esteem,” Ms Morgan says. “Children tend to learn more from what parents do than what they say.

“Adulation of physical appearance is a recipe for disaster. When parents talk about their own body images, they are fostering the same beliefs with their children. The strongest and most effective way parents can deliver a balanced and positive message around body image is by role modelling healthy behaviours.’’

Here are some tips on how to be a good body image role model for you and your child:

Love and accept your own body: Being aware of your attitude towards your own body will help you be conscious of the messages you send to your kids. Try to avoid looking in the mirror and making negative comments about the way you look. If your child sees that you feel comfortable and happy with your body, this can help them feel comfortable in their own skin.

Don’t talk about diets: Dieting is the biggest risk factor for an eating disorder. Try to avoid talking about diets, your “naughty” eating habits, or your weight and size. This can give kids the impression that weight and size are highly valued by you and they might feel pressure to look a certain way or be a certain size. Celebrate diversity and emphasise how loved and valued your child is no matter what their weight, shape or size.

Talk to your child: Encourage your child to talk with you about their feelings regarding their bodies. If your child feels safe talking to you, then they are more likely to share feelings about their bodies with you.

Visit thebutterflyfoundation.org.au.

By Nicole Carrington-Sima

June 24, 2014