|How would you describe yourself and how you feel about yourself to someone you just met? Think about it for a moment.. what are the words or qualities about yourself that you would share with this person?
Now consider this.. are the words that you would use to describe who you are to someone else the same words you use to describe yourself and how you feel about yourself in your own head? Or are they different? Are these words positive, or negative?
Often times, the way we present ourselves to others, and the way we feel about ourselves inside, are two vastly different things. We can be self-critical, have high, often insurmountable expectations of ourselves, and even dislike or hate ourselves at times.
The way we feel about ourselves is known as self-esteem, and in this article we will explore how the way we feel about ourselves, including our body-image, can greatly impact on our emotional well-being and, left unchecked, can have devastating mental health consequences.
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Please note: The information in this article is not medical advice. If you are concerned about your health and well-being, or you are concerned you may have an eating disorder or if you or someone else is in an immediate crisis situation, reach out to a health professional, crisis line, or your nearest emergency service for more support.
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Body image can be described as the way you think and feel about your physical appearance, as well as the perceived judgement you feel from how you imagine others think about your outward appearance.
Impacts of Negative Body Image
An individual who has a negative view of their own physical appearance, whether it be about their weight, body shape, or any other external physical markers may start to feel bad about themselves on the inside.
This negativity can also be enhanced by the pressures of society to look a certain way, perpetuated by the media, fashion industry, or even by peer groups or family members. This negative perception of the self can lead to having self-esteem issues which we will explore next.
Self-esteem "relates to how much you like yourself, and how you recognize or appreciate your individual character, qualities, skills, and accomplishments". In essence, self-esteem is the value we place on ourselves and can be seen on a spectrum of healthy or high self-esteem to unhealthy or low self-esteem.
Having healthy or high self-esteem can include having positive thoughts and yourself, looking forward to the future, feeling a sense of self-worth and being able to trust others and build healthy relationships.
Unhealthy or low self-esteem can include constant self-criticism about your abilities leading to mental health concerns such as overwhelming feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety or even anger.
Quiz | Take the Self-Esteem Self-Administered Test
Impacts of Low Self-Esteem
The impacts of low self-esteem can be plentiful on a persons life and can include:
Self-Check | Eating and Body Image Self-Check
Who is Most at Risk?
Everyone can experience feelings of self-doubt or criticism about their self-worth from time to time, yet there are populations that can be more at risk for developing unhealthy or low self-esteem including:
Factsheet | A Guide for Parents & Youth: Body Image & Self-Esteem
Healthy Body Image & Self-Esteem
Hopefully by now you have been able to see that body image and self-esteem go hand-in-hand.. both of these concepts can greatly impact the other in positive or negative ways.
Some ways of maintaining a healthy self-esteem can include:
Tips | Learn more ways to develop a healthy body image and self-esteem.
Share your own experience of overcoming self-esteem or body issue concerns in the comments.. what helped you to see your self-worth?
Other Mental Health Series
References: youngwomenshealth.org, betterhealth.vic.gov, cmhaff.ca, foundrybc.ca
This article may include affiliate links that I may be compensated for with no additional cost to you. This article does not contain medical or therapeutic advice. If you, or someone you know, is concerned about your health or safety, speak with a local healthcare professional, or reach out to your local emergency service or hospital.
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