FAQ

What’s Body Image? And Is My Body Normal??

FAQ

What’s Body Image? And Is My Body Normal??

Body image refers to how we see and feel about our bodies. This includes all aspects of our bodies, like our gender, appearance, weight, physical health, and even the clothes or makeup we wear!

When it comes to people’s relationship with their body, everyone is different. Some people love their bodies just as they are, while others might need to make changes to their body or appearance in order to feel comfortable. It’s also very common for people to worry about whether or not their body looks and functions like other peoples’ bodies do. If you’ve ever felt stressed out or anxious because you’re not sure if your body is “normal”, you’re not alone!

At the end of the day, you’re the only one who knows you really feel about your body — whether that’s good, bad, or neutral. And only you get to decide what you want to do about that, if anything!

What can affect someone’s body image?

There are lots of things that can affect someone’s body image. And, these things can change throughout someone’s life. How someone feels about their body now might not be how they always feel about it!

Some of the things that people may find affecting their body image include:

  • Going through puberty, or aging in general
  • Hormonal cycles, like menstruating
  • Having a disability or chronic illness
  • Racism, fatphobia, and other forms of discrimination that can lead some to see certain features as not attractive
  • Gender dysphoria, a kind of mental distress that some people feel when their own experience of gender doesn’t line up with how they’re perceived and treated by the people around them
  • Body dysmorphia, a negative and distorted view of their body that some people experience as part of an eating disorder
  • Other mental health issues, like trauma and eating disorders, which can cause people to feel disconnected from or at odds with their own bodies

Many of these things can affect someone’s body image negatively. That means they contribute to someone feeling bad about their body, disliking parts of their body, or even feeling “ugly”. But, there’s also lots of things that can have a positive impact on someone’s body image! Some things that can make people feel better about their bodies include:

How does body image impact mental and sexual health?

Body image is a very personal thing for most people. That means there’s no one right or wrong way to feel about your body. If someone has a negative body image, that doesn’t mean they’ve failed in any way, or that they’re not a good person! How someone’s body image affects their health can be complicated, and that’s okay.

When someone feels like their body causes them distress, or even if they just don’t like how they look or how their body does certain things, it can have an impact on their self-esteem. That means it can affect how they see themselves as people. Someone who feels bad about their body might avoid taking care of their body. Or, they might develop an unhealthy relationship with food or exercise in order to feel more in control of their body. But, not everyone who dislikes parts of their body is at risk for these things!

When someone likes their body, or when they respect their body, they might show that by taking care of themselves. This can look like putting effort into their appearance, and doing things that make their body feel good, like sex or masturbation! But, not everyone who feels good about their body does these things. And doing these things doesn’t always mean that someone has a positive body image!

Body image is about how someone feels. So, you can’t tell what someone’s body image is like by looking at them. Someone who you think looks great might feel bad about their body, and someone can be totally happy with their body even if you don’t like the way they look!

So, IS my body normal?!

It’s very common for people to wonder if their body is normal. It can help to know that when it comes to peoples’ bodies, “normal” doesn’t really exist! Peoples’ bodies come in all sorts of different shapes, sizes, colours, genders, and abilities… and they always have! What society sees as normal, beautiful, and even healthy changes all the time. And, what’s normal for one person’s body might be totally not normal for another person’s!

This is especially true when peoples’ bodies are still growing. And, most people don’t stop growing until they’re around 25 years old!

If there’s something about your body that worries you, makes you feel bad about yourself, or causes you pain, you can talk to a healthcare professional about it.

Do I HAVE to like my body? What can I do if I don’t?

Nobody has to love or even like their body. How you feel about your body is up to you!

If you don’t like your body and you want to change that, there are lots of things you can try. Some of these might include:

  • Watching TV shows, reading comic books, or enjoying other media with main characters who look like you
  • Spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself
  • Doing something with your body that feels good or satisfying, like exercise, sex, or eating something delicious
  • Dressing up in clothes that make you feel confident
  • Taking your meds, or doing other things to help your body stay healthy
  • If dysphoria is affecting your body image, you can talk to someone you trust about your options for gender-affirming care

In fact, you can do all of these things even if you already feel good about your body! And, if you do these things and they don’t change how you feel, that’s okay too.

For some people who struggle with body image, something called “Body Positivity” can help. Body positivity is a movement aimed at getting people to think more positively about their bodies. Other movements, like body neutrality and fat acceptance, are geared towards helping people accept their bodies as they are without necessarily feeling positive about them.

Everyone deserves to feel good about their body if they want to. But the only person you “owe” anything when it comes to your body image is you!

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