Get Happy with a Better Body Image
Body Image Problems and Solutions

A recent study shows that body image has a major effect on how satisfied we are with life overall. Here's the study results and what you can do to improve your own body image.

Get Happy with a Better Body Image

A recent study from Chapman University has shown that the way we feel about our appearance and weight has a major effect on how satisfied we are with life overall. Here's the study results and what you can do to improve your own body image.

The study involved looking at factors involving the personality, romantic relationships, self-esteem, TV viewing and personal characteristics of more than 12,000 people.

“Our study shows that men’s and women’s feelings about their weight and appearance play a major role in how satisfied they are with their lives overall,” said David Frederick, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University and lead author on the study.

What's the Problem?

For women, satisfaction with overall appearance was the third strongest predictor of overall life satisfaction, behind only satisfaction with financial situation and satisfaction with romantic partner.  

For men, appearance satisfaction was the second strongest predictor of life satisfaction, behind only satisfaction with financial situation.

“These findings are consistent with the emphasis placed on the importance of being slender for women and for appearing athletic and/or lean for men,” said Dr Frederick.

People who were dissatisfied with their weight reported substantially less satisfaction with their sex lives and lower overall self-esteem.

The results also showed that people’s orientations towards their relationships—known as “attachment styles”—were linked to how people felt about their bodies. People with an “anxious” attachment style are often preoccupied with their romantic relationships and fearful that their partners will leave them.

Dr. Frederick noted that, “body dissatisfaction and anxious attachment styles can lead to an out of control spiral and fuel each other.  People who are less confident in their appearance become more fearful that their partner will leave, which further fuels their worries about their appearance.”

The results showed that dissatisfied people had higher neuroticism, had more preoccupied and fearful attachment styles, and spent more hours watching television.

In contrast, satisfied people had higher openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, more secure in attachment style, along with higher self-esteem and life satisfaction.

Key Points:

  • People who watched more hours of television per week were less satisfied with their appearance and weight.
  • People who were more satisfied with their physical appearance and weight reported more secure attachment styles, versus fearful and dismissive attachment styles.
  • People who were more satisfied with their appearance reported greater self-esteem, greater satisfaction with life, sex life, friends, romantic partners, family, and financial situation.
  • Body Mass Index (BMI) was strongly related to dissatisfaction with appearance and weight.


How to Improve Your Body Image

So what can you do to get a better body image? Here's our top 5 tips:

1 - Change Your Self Talk

Stop giving yourself verbal beatings - you wouldn't abuse your friends like that!

Try to catch yourself next time you're being nasty about how you look or what you are. Would it be acceptable to speak to friend or loved-one like that? If not, how is it OK to be so disrespectful to yourself?

Show yourself some respect and appreciation - be gentle, kind and understanding when you talk to yourself - as you would be with a friend.

This takes practice, you have to watch out for and interrupt yourself when you catch self-directed verbal abuse.

2 - Care for Your Body

Show your body some love. Self care can become a virtuous circle - the more you look after yourself, the more you want to look after yourself. Taking care of your body spills over into thinking about its health, subconsciously encouraging you to eat healthy stuff and be more active.

Here's some ideas to get you started:

  • Gently rub in a delicious smelling handcream several times a day
  • Get your hair done
  • Paint your nails
  • Get a pedicure
  • Give yourself a facial

3 - What's Good About You?

Are you kind, generous, vivacious, witty, intelligent, helpful, hard-working, caring, reliable? Or any other of the many things that make people loveable, beautiful and appreciated by others.

So now it's time to appreciate yourself.

Make a list of what's good about you. Keep it with you, read it often, and add to it as you remember (as you will) something good about you.

This list will help you change that pesky negative self-talk. Remember what's on it, use phrases from it to replace your verbal  beatings.

4 - Make Friends with Your Mirror

Go to the mirror - smile, blow yourself a kiss, say "hello georgeous" - you are a georgeous person after all. Really, do this - you may be surprised at how it makes you feel!

Dress in clothes that work with your shape, make you feel good, and fit well.

Look in the mirror when you're dressed, focus on what looks nice. Give yourself some positive self-talk:

  • My bum looks good in these
  • I like the way my ankles look in these shoes
  • Nice cleavage!

Bear in mind that other people do not automatically hone in on what you think you see as your 'bad points', they could be captivated by your lashes, warmed by your smile, or dazzled by your sparkling conversation.

Focus on what's good about you, especially when you look in the mirror.

5 - Don't Get Hung Up on Media Images

If looking good on camera was an important part of your job, you'd spend a ton of time and money looking after your physical assets. (And possibly become somewhat self-obsessed in the process.)

On top of that, you'd likely have a great makeup professional, stylist, wardrobe and colour consultants, plus an excellent photographer and airbrusher for those all-important photo shoots.

Hours in the gym, body and beauty treatments, even surgery, would be an essential part of your work.

Most of us work in different jobs that, quite frankly, don't pay enough for regular freezing and elimination of unwanted fat cells.

Realise that media images are idealised and manipulated. Real people don't look like that, take a look around you.

Don't let unrealistic, and unreal, images define how you think you should look. 

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