When we talk about eating disorders, body image is something that’s nearly always mentioned. But, what do body image and eating disorders have to do with one another? Body image plays a huge role in the development of eating disorders. And, on the other hand, it plays a major part in recovering from eating disorders and maintaining healing.
Identifying What Body Image Is
Body image is how a person sees and thinks about their body. This includes mental images of how a person sees themselves as well as how a person feels and thinks about their weight, body shape, or size. A person who has a positive body image feels comfortable in their own skin and accepts how they look as they feel positive about the mental image they have of their own body. On the other hand, a person struggling with body image may not feel comfortable with their body as they view and think negatively about how their body looks.
Body image may not be something that is concrete and is something that is ever-changing. However, it’s an important aspect of mental health as body image can be directly correlated to a person’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Unfortunately, people with negative body image may experience mental health issues as these thoughts and feelings can negatively affect both behaviors and thought patterns. Therefore, negative body image is often associated with issues like eating disorders, especially for young adults who are initially developing how they feel and think about their bodies.
The Connection Between Body Image and Eating Disorders
There’s a connection between body image and eating disorders as people who have a negative body image may not like their weight or body shape. If this becomes an obsession or something they focus on adjusting, these thoughts and behaviors can transform into disordered eating behaviors. One of the most defining characteristics of eating disorders is a distorted body image, so recognizing negative body image can be an identifying factor of eating disorders.
Some Signs and Symptoms of Negative Body Image
Recognizing negative body image in a loved one or yourself can help you to identify if you’re struggling with body image on a scale that may lead to or has already led to disordered eating. Identifying signs and symptoms of negative body disorder can allow you to accept that help is necessary to healing and transforming how you think and feel about your own body. Some of the signs and symptoms of negative body image may include:
- being critical about how you look
- comparing your body shape, size, and weight to others
- being overly concerned about specific body parts/areas of the body
- avoiding things you once enjoyed because of the way you think you look
- becoming consumed with losing weight
- utilizing extreme methods of weight loss (restricting eating, skipping meals, using laxatives, fad diets, etc.)
- associating eating with negative feelings (shame, guilt, etc.)
Getting Help for Negative Body Image That Leads to Eating Disorder Behaviors
Do you feel that negative body image has impacted your eating behaviors? If so, this can be a sign that you are struggling with an eating disorder as the result of a negative body image. Treatment for eating disorders includes identifying problems with body image and providing tools to help change how you feel about and see yourself. Willow Place for Women offers supportive care for women dealing with both negative body image and eating disorders. Find out how we can help today by learning more about our treatment programs on our website.