Body Image: The Psychological Effects of Adolescents
What is body image? Body image is made up of a person’s beliefs, thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and actions about their body and appearance. Body image is important because the way we see ourselves influences every aspect of our lives: our mental health, our physical health, how we take care of ourselves, how we interact with and relate to other people. People suffering from eating disorders often have negative or distorted views of themselves, their bodies, and their appearance.
Once an esoteric psychological concept, body image is now a household word, seen as a normative problem for most Western civilizations, in part due to the ever-expanding role of the mass media promulgating unreasonably thin bodies as the standard of beauty, and to the many changes in sociocultural roles. Since 2004, a professional journal (Body Image: An International Journal of Research) has been devoted to the research and understanding of its function in psychological and physical well-being, and articles abound in numerous other, more generic mental health publications. It is a “hot topic” among graduate students in psychology, resulting in countless theses and dissertations each year. Still, eating disorder experts and programs struggle to help clients address the ruinous power negative body image holds in their lives.
For individuals in the adolescent stage, there are many experiences and social pressures that they face daily. In this time of development teenagers are starting to really ask questions like “Who am I?” While teenagers are in search for answers, they are bombarded with certain influential factors that can hinder or help them. Many of the social strains assist in the individual on how to define themselves, and the position of their social stature. One factor that is especially influential in the adolescent community is body image. Body image is an issue that has always been of important consideration for teenagers. How a person looks can determine who they associate with, how they are perceived and represent their way of self-expression. Most of the time in this life stage how an individual view themselves can affect them in certain ways, such as their psyche. The effects of body image for adolescents can cause certain psychological impairments such as dysmorphophobia, eating disorders, and early sexual practices.
Body image can cause the psychological impairment dysmorphophobia on adolescents. Dysmorphophobia also known as body dysmorphic disorder is described by Philips and Rogers (2011) as, “a distressing or impairing preoccupation with nonexistent or slight defect(s) in appearance.” According to Bolton (2010) usually the person with the disorder is continuously fixated with fixing or inspecting a portion of their body that they may feel is their biggest imperfection. This disorder mainly starts at early adolescence when individuals are starting to mature m...