Understanding Your Body Image

People who focus on looks are often accused of being vain and shallow.  However, the wrong conclusion to draw from that is that you shouldn’t focus on looks because it makes you superficial: that’s not the whole story.  The full picture requires context (if a TV Show is looking for an actor with a certain look to play a part, it’s not shallow as much as trying to tell a story properly) and balance: If you focus on looks to the exclusion of all else, then you are imbalanced and more shallow than not, but if you use it as one of many possible metrics for judgment, then you remain balanced (A Time and Place for Judgement).  If you ignore it completely, that’s also an imbalance that isn’t good.

Taking care of your body image is tremendously important, because it influences how people treat you: whether you like the fact or not, it is still a fact that good looking people get treated better and have more advantages than less good looking people.  One example is of respect: it’s easier to command respect if you are well dressed than if you look sloppy and unkept.  You will lose a lot of time convincing people you are neat and organized that way; it is much more efficient to just show them you are–the communication is faster and more concrete and believable.  Research has also shown that psychologically, we make more positive assumptions about good looking people than not good looking people; if you make a mistake, we’ll forgive you quicker if you’re good looking than if you’re not.  If you don’t want to miss out on advantages in life, you should put some time and effort into your body image.

Some people use body image as a form of rebellion.  This is fine, I just want to say that silent rebellion is definitely the wrong way to do it: if you chose to look like something for a specific reason, nobody will know that reason unless you explain because no-one can read your mind.  If you don’t explain yourself, you are more likely going to disadvantage yourself in life, than succeed in making a protest or stand for something. (Manage Your Rebellion Intelligently)

You should also realize that body image is another form of identity (explained in Who Am I?), which means that what you think of your body is different from what each person you meet thinks of your body image.  Some will think you’re fat, others skinny, others normal.  You decide who to believe–no-one is objectively right or wrong, it’s a subjective opinion. You will also never be good looking to everyone, so don’t worry about it (in fact, it’s bad for dating if everyone thinks you’re cute: read the OK Cupid Study). Psychologically, who you think you are is heavily tied to who you were in your childhood, because that’s when you were forming your identity in the world: you can break free from that identity if you want, there’s no need to be trapped in the past.  You are constantly changing and you can guide that change if you want to.

An example of this is my story: I grew up poor and skinny from lack of food, so I never thought about or worried about being  overweight, because I figured I was underweight if anything.  However, life improved, I bought new clothes, then after a few years, I started exercising, and now none of my clothes fit–they are all two sizes too big.  This means my body image must have increased from skinny to normal, at least from the point of view to other people, but I personally never noticed.  Therefore, your body image identity to yourself really comes from within, not from what other people think or say, and what other people say only affect you if you let it–when people said I was loosing weight after I started exercising, I didn’t believe them because I didn’t think I could lose any more, but doctor’s records prove that I did.

Extra reading

To find out when more Life Education Curriculum is released, subscribe on the side! Follow on Twitter, on Facebook, on Google+, on Tumblr.

  • Pingback: Quora()

  • Cat

    Interesting post! Dressing appropriately for each work setting certainly suggests to others that you are capable of 1) identifying specific environments 2) recognizing the expected standards of dress and 3) obtaining a suitable outfit (purchase assumed, although you may borrow/rent). I would add that the next “level” of appearance management would turn the lens inward–instead of simply matching your environment, you develop a personal style. This signals to others that you have taken the time to 1) identify your body type (fitting puzzle pieces of clothing together to emphasize your strengths) 2) research clothing styles (being cognizant of connotations–i.e. prep and traditional, bohemian, retro etc.) and, depending on your financial means, 3) support causes in the “commerce fueled by conscience” model (i.e. one-for-one TOMS shoes, sweatshop-free American Apparel pieces).

  • Pingback: Quora()

  • Pingback: Life Lessons Feb 2014 | Attempted Living()

  • Pingback: Routines to Improve Your Life | Attempted Living()