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The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Body Image

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Having a healthy body image means that you feel good about your body--the way it looks and the way it functions. A healthy body image is crucial to self-confidence, self-acceptance and self-worth. If you don't have a healthy body image, you're more likely to suffer form eating and mood disorders. Here's how developing a healthy body image can help you lead a happier life.

What Body Image Means

Your body image is the way you perceive your own body, irrespective of the way others may perceive it. Body image isn't always tied to reality. You could have the figure of a supermodel, but if you think your body is ugly and ungainly, then you have a poor body image. On the other hand, if you have a good body image, you will like the way your body looks and feels, even if others don't.

How a Poor Body Image Affects You

If you have a poor body image, it probably means you're having problems accepting yourself as you are. Self-acceptance is crucial to a good body image. If you accept yourself, that means that you acknowledge that you are perfectly okay just as you are, and that you are happy with yourself the way you are. That doesn't mean that you believe you're absolutely perfect and will never need to change one bit; self-acceptance allows you to make reasonable changes in order to improve yourself, but it doesn't ask you to hate yourself until those changes have been made.

Poor body image has been linked to a number of mental and emotional problems, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Poor body image can cause emotional turmoil and can lead you to believe that you're less worthwhile than others. It can contribute to low self-esteem and fear of intimacy, hampering your interpersonal relationships. Poor body image, when severe, can even increase your risk of suicide.

How a Good Body Image Affects You

On the other hand, if you have a healthy body image, you accept yourself as you are. You realize that you aren't perfect, but you also realize that no one else is either. You hold yourself to reasonable standards, and have reasonable expectations for yourself.

If you have a healthy body image, you like the way your body looks and feels just the way it is. You don't feel like you need to tone up, lose weight, or have plastic surgery in order to feel better about your body. You may still make a decision to improve your body, by losing weight or exercising more for instance, but that's because you're concerned about your health or other factors, not because you think it will make you more valuable as a person.

If you have a healthy body image, you're more likely to be emotionally and mentally stable and healthy. You'll enjoy more confidence, self-awareness, and self-esteem. You'll be far less likely to suffer from eating disorders and you'll decrease your risks of depression and anxiety. You'll even enjoy closer relationships, since you won't be afraid to reveal your body in intimate settings.

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