Thursday, November 11, 2010

Body Image Distortions

The struggle with body image is common between both men and women and can have a huge impact on someone's self esteem and confidence. The truth is is that worth is not found in appearance but rather who we are in Christ. Most of the times, negative body image is the result of a deeper issue. Its really easy to avoid whats going on internally by focusing on something external like your body/appearance.  There are different types of body image distortions:
1. Beauty or Beast: Polarized thinking. All or nothing, black or white. You think about your appearance in absolutes and/or extremes: "Either I am skinny or fat", "perfect or a failure". A bad hair day equals a bad day, a good hair day means everything is wonderful...until it gets messed up. 

2. Unfair-to-Compare: Perfectionism. You place your appearance up against some unrealistic or extreme standard. When you compare yourself to these standards, you end up feeling worthless or unattractive. There are three common unfair comparisons: 
     1. comparisons with your own standards of beauty
     2. comparisons to media 
     3. comparisons to real people 

3. Magnifying Glass: Selective Attention/Magnification. You focus on one specific aspect of your appearance or body part and exaggerate it -- As if you were putting your body under a magnifying glass. All you see is one huge flaw but your misery/dissatisfaction with it extends to your whole appearance 

4. The Blame Game: Scapegoat your appearance. You assume that some disliked physical feature is responsible for certain disappointments and difficulties that you've experienced. "If my legs were thinner, he would have asked me out!" "If I were better looking I would have gotten that job." 

5. Mind Misreading: Projection onto current situations. You assume that if you look fat/bad/discusting/ugly,, so is everyone else. "Everyone is looking at how gross my stomach is" when in fact maybe they are looking at you because you're talking to them. 

6. Misfortune Telling: Projection with  a future situation. You predict how your appearance will negatively affect future events. "No matter how good I've been in practice, once the cheerleaders see me in that short skirt in tryouts, i'll never get picked. I'm too fat." "I can't go talk to that group of people because they're just going to reject me because I am ugly." 

7. Moody Mirror: Emotional Reasoning. You let your mood/emotions dictate the way you feel about your body -- If you feel depressed, angry, lonely, you feel bad about your body too. If your mood changes, it may then change the way you perceive your body of the way you feel about yourself. "I feel fat therefore I am fat." 

8. Beauty Bound: Negative Thinking/Self-Doubt. You believe that you cannot do certain things due to your appearance and body. "I am not going to even apply for that job because of the way I look" or "I am not even going to leave the house today because I am ashamed." 

I know some of these examples are extreme and may seem over the top heck no thats not me.  Personally I can relate to some of these whether its related to my body, what I'm wearing or even other things not related to appearance. Thankfully, there is hope! 

"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his outward appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

"Do not let your adorning be external -- the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing -- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentler and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. " 1 Peter 3:3-4


  1. Jenny, I just can't wait to see where God takes you. He's already using your experiences for His good. You inspire me!!

  2. Jenny, your heart is beautiful and your countenance shines!