By Zelda Buitendag
Do you feel pressure to be thin? Do you obsess about different ways to achieve a thigh gap, a flat stomach or skinnier calves? If so, you’re not alone. Countless teens and adults suffer from body image stress and that stress can interfere with your ability to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Does Anyone Feel Good About Their Body?
If you have any doubt that adults, teens and even children feel pressure to look better in their bodies, consider the following research statistics:
- 83% of women said they were more likely to lie about their pants size than about their age.
- 53% of 13-year-old American girls are unhappy with their bodies. The number grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen.
- 40% of 9 and 10-year-old girls have tried to lose weight.
So where does all the body image stress come from? If you ask some legislators and health advocates, photoshopped images may be a big part of the problem. Photoshopped pictures are images that have been changed so that the model appears thinner or more attractive than they are in real life. Many experts say that these edited photos set up unrealistic expectations about the way our bodies are supposed to look.
An increasing amount of academic evidence links exposure to such altered images with emotional, mental, and physical health issues. Furthermore, such altered images can create distorted and unrealistic expectations and understandings of appropriate and healthy weight and body image.
Stress Interferes with Healthy Weight Loss
Some experts feel that exposure to unrealistic body images may encourage some teens and adults to lose weight when they don’t need to. But the images can also interfere with a healthy weight loss process when an overweight teen or adult chooses to slim down.
One of the most important steps in the weight loss process is goal setting. Dieters should set goals that are challenging but also healthy, realistic and attainable. This provides a framework for the entire diet and exercise journey. But if the goals are based on unrealistic expectations, then the weight loss process is doomed to fail.
And the damage doesn’t end there. When dieters fail at repeated attempts to lose weight, they lose faith in their ability to ever achieve a healthy weight. When dieters lose their sense of self-efficacy they are more likely to give up on the healthy habits that will help them reach their goal weight.
Photoshopped Models: A Source of Body Image Stress
This article was written by the SureSlim Psychologist, Zelda.