Perfectionism & Body Image

Written by Dr. RJ

  |  Reviewed by Jen Bell

Perfectionism and self-criticism are other personality characteristics that can contribute to a negative body image.

Many people who suffer from anorexia or bulimia also have distortions of their body image, and they often have neurological abnormalities in their parietal cortex, the region of the brain that assists people in sensing their body proportions. In other words, these people may see their bodies as bigger than they really are, because the information provided by their brain is incorrect.

Most people who lose weight are able to adjust their mental body image to reflect what they see in the mirror. But people who become malnourished as a result of anorexia or bulimia may have difficulty updating their mental picture. They may continue to perceive a larger version of their body, instead of their present physical state. Additionally, people who suffer from body image distortion often concentrate on perceived faults rather than their overall look.

It can be a challenge to admit that you are suffering from a distorted body image. People experiencing this might ignore the worries of friends and family members, because what friends and family say does not match with what they themselves see when they look in the mirror. For anyone trying to address an eating disorder in therapy, it is essential to address body image distortion. When a distorted or negative body image is not addressed, this can increase a person’s risk of recurrent and ongoing disordered eating.

Remember, there are many ways to counter the external challenges you will face in your journey to develop a healthy body image and self-esteem. Since Day 1, you’ve had everything you need within yourself – don’t let the world convince you that you do not. Know that YOU are inherently worthy and have the power to love yourself in the way you desire by making small choices and commitments to yourself everyday. Remind yourself of this truth daily. With practice it will get easier and you will likely start to notice a difference in the way you feel.