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What Are 'body Image Problems'?

Body image is often assumed to be less important for older people. However, if you look at the vast and lucrative industry devoted to helping people slow down or prevent the obvious signs of ageing, another picture emerges. Many older people are still very interested in their appearance. Likewise, younger people often anticipate that they will be more relaxed about their appearance once they 'reach 40' but people whose sense of self-worth is largely determined by their appearance are unlikely to change as they grow older. In some work settings, particularly those in the media, such as television, personal appearance has great importance and an attractive individual is likely to do better when competing for a high-status job.

The factors that distinguish someone with a normal body image from someone who has a body image problem are linked to the way they think and act. It's important to realize that you don't have a body image problem simply because you dislike certain parts of your body, think that you'd like to lose a few pounds, or you regularly wear make-up or love clothes. Nor do you have a body image problem if you have a significant disfigurement or an unusual appearance. Many people who live their lives outside the 'norm' live perfectly happy lives and celebrate the things that make them exceptional.

Negative body image becomes a problem when:

  • You think about your appearance at the expense of other activities
  • You avoid social situations, workplaces or relationships because of the way you look
  • You believe you can only feel confident or be happy by changing the way you look
  • You believe that the way you look is preventing you from taking part in certain activities
  • You worry excessively about your appearance
  • You repeatedly check your appearance
  • You consistently use very heavy make-up
  • You refuse to leave the house without make-up on

The above scenarios or ideas can reinforce the idea that your appearance is abnormal and therefore increase any body image anxiety.