So what is body image? In general, most of us respond with, "It's what I think about my body." As a loosely based answer, you're right. But it's much more complex than that. Body image is essentially the mental picture you hold of your physical self. Dig a little deeper, beyond the surface of the quick answer and you'll discover that your body image is based solely on perception.
Within the realm of perception there is a sea of gray between opinion and tangible fact. Your perception of your body image is derived from two main sources; external and internal. The two are deeply connected. Like fraternal twins they appear different, but share an unbreakable bond. These sources construct your internal viewpoint which then casts the image of the body you live in.
Externally, you are being unconsciously bombarded by society's projections. Every day, your visual sensory is storing the images of advertisements in magazines, billboards, and television commercials as well as the physical attributes of the people you come in contact within your community.
The images of your proximate world are absorbed into your consciousness. You may find yourself negatively or positively comparing your hips, waist or breast size. In some cultures, a more robust body is sought after, as a symbol of wealth or stature. In other cultures, thin is set to be the standard and women go to great lengths to maintain the expectation.
In the United States, statistics show the South to be the most heavily populated area of obesity. Certainly the tradition of high caloric foods contributes to this factor; yet consider how the commonality of overweight becomes the norm in the consciousness of the region. The external environment can seep deeply into the subconscious and connect with you on an internal level.
Shandelle, a woman from New York was lanky and thin as a child. In her schoolgirl days she was often teased because she was tall and had not developed curves like the other girls. The name-calling translated into "I'm different, there must me something wrong with me?" It took her almost 30 years to shake the past and appreciate her body.
On the contrary, Julie from Atlanta became a weight loss success story. She worked hard to accomplish the victory of reaching her ideal weight, yet occasionally she still finds herself thinking like the 'big girl' she once inhabited. These women have beautiful, healthy bodies yet found themselves feeling inadequate. It is an awakening truth; body image is often, not rooted in reality.
Surely you might agree it seems unfair? It is a disservice we commit on ourselves. So how do you uncover the illusion and accept your body with love? The path appears in a few pro-active tasks that you can communicate through your mind-body connection and liberate yourself to a new level of approval despite your body size.
1) Halt the Pressures of ComparisonA phenomenal speaker once brought her audience to their feet, and their hands roaring applause when she said with a commanding delivery, "Curiosity did not kill the cat, comparison did." Comparison can be a positive boost to our fitness programs; comparing last month's running statistics to this month's running statistics can help your progress. But, comparing your body to another body is the old 'apples to oranges' theory; comparing bodies is unjust practice. Not one other person has your fingerprint. Comparing your body to another's is a waste of your mental and emotional energy. Don't hinder your ability to love yourself by corking your spirit.