Close your eyes and create a picture of your physical body in your imagination. Make this picture as accurate as possible. You may create the image of your body with clothes on or off depending on your comfort level. Look at this body from your inner eye and answer these questions. Do you love this image of your body? Do you wish that this body was smaller, taller, or a different shape or size? Do you love this image of your body in your mindís eye? How do you think other people in society would view this image of your body in terms of being attractive? Do think that this image of your body is a depiction of mainstream beauty? Do you feel satisfied with the unique design of your body?
Your body image is the collective thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that you have about your own body; how you compare these ideas about your body image to that of others; and how you imagine that others feel about your body. If you have a positive body image you generally feel good about the appearance of your body. If you are overly critical of the image of your body or have strong feelings of hate, anger, or disappointment about your body this is typically referred to as having a negative body image.
Your body image begins to develop early in life in relation to how family members, friends, teachers, doctors, your community, and the mainstream media reflect back to you how they feel about your body in comparison to others. The first thing doctors do when you are taken from the comfort of your motherís womb is measure the length of your body and weigh you to determine if your height and weight range is ďnormal.Ē In some form or fashion, your body size will be compared to others for the rest of your life.
Even though doctors have good intentions in terms of your long-term medical health, the side effect is that before you have developed the cognitive ability to define yourself for yourself society will have already labeled you as overweight, underweight, or just perfect. This label is stamped into the consciousness of the mother who will begin to see her childís body image in comparison to statistical data and national charts each time she takes her baby to the pediatrician for a routine checkup. She will be indirectly taught how to feel about the size of her baby.
In some cases the mother will begin to refer to her baby as chubby or fat and this child will be treated as such and begin to see himself through the eyes of others. In other cases the mother will begin to see her child as being within a normal weight range and this childís image of herself will follow suit as well in later years.
Other factors will play a role throughout the childís life that will determine how he or she feel about their body image in obvious and subtle ways based on who society rewards based on their level of physical attractiveness whether itís from who gets the most attention in class from a teacher, to whose face is used to sell eye shadow.