Jul 14, 2014

Distorted Self-Images

Last weekend we went out of town and I had a lot of time to reflect on the different types of distorted self-images that people have.  Beginning with myself.  I try not to talk about it because it sounds ridiculous.  If I gain 2 lbs I view myself as overweight.  Someone else would look at me and think that is absurd but my image of myself cannot be changed by what someone else thinks.

It reminded me of a friend I had in my early 20s.  She was tall and thin and did some type of modeling so when I say 'thin' she was actually skinny and she thought she needed to lose weight.  I used to joke with her by saying "oh ya, you need to lose like 50 pounds ya fatty".  My view was that she was being ridiculous because she had nowhere to lose 5 lbs from.  Looking back, she probably viewed herself the way I view myself if I gain a little. 

Bring in those who are overweight, obese or morbidly obese.  These individuals have to do the best they can to make it through society.  Between stares, snickers or people making fun of them.  Even being outright belligerent toward them.  This is a huge blow to a person's self-esteem and that is why, as a society, we are working so hard to promote self-worth.  Self-image is so important that it can heavily impact a person's overall well-being.  It is known that obese individuals have a tendency toward depression.  They are the object of ridicule and that is extremely hurtful.  I am not just talking about something minimal to hurt another's feelings.  I am talking about life changing instances that can throw a person down the long nasty road of depression.  Damaging a person's self-worth can definitely distort their self-image.  Please note that obesity can also be deadly so it is still important to work on becoming healthier.

Believe it or not, some overweight individuals do not view themselves as overweight.  Or maybe they feel as though they are not as overweight as someone else.  Thinking "it's not that bad" but the truth is that this is also a form of a distorted self-image and can be harmful to a person's health.  As an example I frequently hear that BMI should not be used as a measure for a person's health.  This is a distorted way of thinking because BMI simply measures a person's body mass index and gives a fairly accurate reading of a person's mass not body fat.  This measurement may be skewed if the person is extremely athletic or lifts a lot of heavy weights.  Working out 3 days a week does not constitute being athletic.  It would fall in the category of active but it does not necessarily mean that the BMI is inaccurate. 

I bet you did not know it but body builders can have distorted self-images as well.  Yep.  It is called muscle dysmorphia.  The web definition: a psychological disorder marked by a negative body image and an obsessive desire to have a muscular physique.  It is when a body builder believes they are small and continue working to get bigger and bigger.  It is much like a person who is anorexic working at getting skinnier and skinnier.

Whatever the case may be, a distorted self-image is damaging to one's psyche and can take control.  Allowing the person to plummet to feelings of low or no self-worth. As mentioned above, society is working to help increase and boost the self-esteem of those who are overweight.  Their feelings and emotions are just as valid as anyone who is not overweight.  The same can be said of any person whose self-image is distorted.  As people, we can tell the physical shape of one another and it should be that we want to lift each other up.  We should want to encourage each other to make improvements for health purposes.  If improvements are not needed we should want to encourage one another to view themselves in a better light.

For the most part, I can appreciate when my body is in shape.  But if the slightest change happens it sends me in a tail spin.  It makes me feel like a lump and it can even ruin my day... or next couple of days.  This type of distorted self-image happens to many of us.  Maybe even worse than I am describing here and I want to say you are worth it and you are great!  It is OK to have a little bump in the road.  Just get back up and get back to working on you.  This could even mean getting some counseling to help overcome the distorted self-image and realize you are beautiful!  Or maybe it just means continuing on with your weight loss journey and recognizing the successes.

Whatever your specific circumstance, remember that self-image makes a huge impact and should be regarded in a positive manner.  Most of the times we know where we stand, physically, but if you do not like the way you look but others continuously tell you that you are wrong about what you think you see it may be a good idea go to a doctor.  (For example if trusted people in your life say you are too skinny/anorexic/overweight and you think the opposite.)  This will help you determine if you genuinely need to make some health changes or if you have a distorted self-image and need assistance overcoming it. 

Do you think we can help those with distorted self-images?  Post your comment below.

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  1. I think posts like this CAN help people with distorted body images. I believe that as long as it comes from a place of caring that we can help those who are lost in their heads with "I do not look good enough"...

    It's a balance... It's all a balance

    1. Balance...... you are right and sometimes that is the hardest part.

  2. I agree with this post. When I was at my lowest weight I thought I was Fat and needed to lose weight. Now I'm at my heaviest weight and I realize what it is actually like to need to lose weight. I would give anything to go back and be the weight I was then. I now realize it was normal and healthy to be at that weight and did not make me fat.

    1. So funny you said that. I used to think I had fat legs in high school and looking back I see they were solid not fat.