When someone cannot seem to stop agonizing or obsessing about defects or flaws with their body, it causes an overwhelming feeling of shame and anxiety that leads them to avoid social situations. In many cases, they will obsess over their appearance and body image by repeatedly checking the mirror, grooming for hours a day, or consistently seeking reassurance from others about how they look. They will regularly compare themselves to others, envy a friend or celebrity’s body type, and think negative thoughts when it comes to how they look or behave.
This type of behavior is referred to as Body Dysmorphic Disorder, which can cause significant distress that will impact both physical and emotional health. In severe cases, people may undergo numerous cosmetic procedures to try to “fix” the problem, only to realize this is just a temporary solution.
A more permanent solution is to seek professional help, because the problem will not go away by itself. While in therapy, clients who struggle with body image will learn how their perception of how attractive, healthy, or acceptable they are to others began as a young child. If their body image seemed distorted at a young age, traits of perfectionism and self-criticism will influence how they internalize body image and suppress certain feelings. Therapy can be difficult, but soon clients realize how to recognize and analyze irrational thoughts and feelings, and become more comfortable with how they feel. In the end, clients report feeling more appreciative of their body and respect themselves enough to not fall back into unhealthy behaviors.
If you'd like to talk to someone about body image, please contact us.