As a former TV weatherman, I spent many an hour worrying about my appearance and the ‘TV adds 10 pounds’ adage. As my drinking and using spiraled out of control, I began engaging in eating disorder behaviors to deal with the added weight. In response to my negative body image, I soon added bulimia to my repertoire of addictions.
Body image is a buzzword that many of us have heard but may not understand. It’s defined as a person’s feelings of the aesthetics or sexual attractiveness of their own body, which may be influenced by others or the media. As science discovers more about what stimulates the growth of eating disorders, we are learning that negative body image is one of the key factors at play in the vulnerable mind.
The phrase body image was first coined by the Austrian neurologist and psychoanalyst Paul Schilder in his book The Image and Appearance of the Human Body decades ago. But as a culture, we’re still not dealing with the increasing population of people who suffer from negative feelings about themselves and how they feel about how they look.
If you feel critical when you look in the mirror, or jealous of other people’s body and avoid exercising and sex because you’re embarrassed about how you look, it’s time to think about negative body image and the effect it’s having on your life.
When you’ve lived in the world of hating your body, it’s difficult to start to take steps toward building your self-esteem. Getting sober from drugs and alcohol helped me begin to feel myself in my body and was an estimable act that built my self-confidence. If you begin by practicing awareness of the negative self-talk, you’re on your way to challenging it. Nurturing your body with baths or massage helps to soothe the pain of self-hate. Spending time with people who love you and doing service for others also gets you out of yourself and your narrow view of the world.
Shifting your perspective on how you feel about your body is an important part of recovery from any eating disorder. At Breathe Life Healing Center, it’s an integral part of our treatment program. If you need help with negative body image or feel yourself slipping away from the world, unable to cope without disordered behaviors, call us today. We can help.