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  1. #1
    RooibosKrayfish RadicalDoubt's Avatar
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    Default Negative Body Image

    This is probably going to sound really ignorant but I'm going for it anyways. What is it like to have an overwhelmingly negative body image (in terms of perhaps health or shape)? Also what do you think would be the best way to support one who has these feelings?

    I'm trying to support a family member with a very poor body image (ie. she thinks she's fat and ugly but she's pretty average/perhaps slightly underweight), but every time I try to be supportive or rationalize this I end up coming off abrupt or not providing feedback that is meaningful. My empathy is typically a bit better than this but this is somewhat a blind spot of mine it appears...

    (Also sorry if this is in the wrong section, I was debating on putting this in the advice section but it's kind of health related so idk).
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  2. #2
    The Rainbow Healer Maya Dawn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RadicalDoubt View Post
    This is probably going to sound really ignorant but I'm going for it anyways. What is it like to have an overwhelmingly negative body image (in terms of perhaps health or shape)? Also what do you think would be the best way to support one who has these feelings?

    I'm trying to support a family member with a very poor body image (ie. she thinks she's fat and ugly but she's pretty average/perhaps slightly underweight), but every time I try to be supportive or rationalize this I end up coming off abrupt or not providing feedback that is meaningful. My empathy is typically a bit better than this but this is somewhat a blind spot of mine it appears...

    (Also sorry if this is in the wrong section, I was debating on putting this in the advice section but it's kind of health related so idk).
    No worries, you’ve come to the right place wanna elaborate more on the sort of responses you’ve given to try and support your family member? Maybe it’ll help to look into that and see if there may be a better way to show support... As someone who (still) deals with low self-esteem and a negative body image, I might be able to help you get some insight into her POV. I will admit off the bat that it’s good you’re trying to help.
    Just because somebody does not love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.

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  3. #3
    RooibosKrayfish RadicalDoubt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angel Cake View Post
    No worries, you’ve come to the right place wanna elaborate more on the sort of responses you’ve given to try and support your family member? Maybe it’ll help to look into that and see if there may be a better way to show support... As someone who (still) deals with low self-esteem and a negative body image, I might be able to help you get some insight into her POV. I will admit off the bat that it’s good you’re trying to help.
    The direction I've kind of gone with it is very solution based (which is probably not the correct way, but the most natural for me). She's always had body issues, but a lot of her most recent qualms come from aging things (change in the way the body sets, wrinkles, ect), so I sort of try to explain why the body has changed and that those sort of changes aren't really related so much to weight gain/not exercising enough as much as it is related to changes in hormones or the general shifting in body structure. When she makes depreciating comments I'm pretty quick to comment that things look different to people outside of herself and that some of what she sees isn't entirely realistic. I've also tried complimenting different aspects of her appearance (sometimes prior to her being depreciating) to help her feel more positive about her changing form, because there are a lot of things worth complimenting. She seems to understand the sentiment and that I care for her, but it's painstakingly obvious that she thinks that I don't understand (and honestly, I'd agree).

    She's definitely not looking for solutions and I feel as though the latter part of what I mentioned, while accurate may come across as invalidating her feelings. I don't want to fuel her depreciation, but I'm not really sure what responses would be more appropriate.
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  4. #4
    The Rainbow Healer Maya Dawn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RadicalDoubt View Post
    The direction I've kind of gone with it is very solution based (which is probably not the correct way, but the most natural for me). She's always had body issues, but a lot of her most recent qualms come from aging things (change in the way the body sets, wrinkles, ect), so I sort of try to explain why the body has changed and that those sort of changes aren't really related so much to weight gain/not exercising enough as much as it is related to changes in hormones or the general shifting in body structure. When she makes depreciating comments I'm pretty quick to comment that things look different to people outside of herself and that some of what she sees isn't entirely realistic. I've also tried complimenting different aspects of her appearance (sometimes prior to her being depreciating) to help her feel more positive about her changing form, because there are a lot of things worth complimenting. She seems to understand the sentiment and that I care for her, but it's painstakingly obvious that she thinks that I don't understand (and honestly, I'd agree).

    She's definitely not looking for solutions and I feel as though the latter part of what I mentioned, while accurate may come across as invalidating her feelings. I don't want to fuel her depreciation, but I'm not really sure what responses would be more appropriate.
    Hmm... sounds about what I expected tbh my guy is INTP, it took me a while to understand that him explaining things to me and offering logical solutions is his way of caring. So while I appreciate it a ton now, I can imagine it’s not an approach that’s easy for “non-NTs” to handle. Especially when it comes to self-esteem issues.

    I’d say you’re doing right by not fueling or encouraging her self-deprecating thoughts. It might help to essentially “soften the blow”, which I see you’ve been trying by complimenting her appearance and all. You could also, instead of diving right into solution-giving, allow her to express her emotions openly first and listen patiently. Perhaps she feels that she’s not being heard?

    I don’t know much about the dynamics between you two, but I’ve often found that having an open conversation helps bridge the gap in communication. It’s also best to have this kind of discussion when the other person is in a calmer state of mind. Hope this helps a bit!
    Just because somebody does not love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.

    Confessions of a Kashmirican

    Johari: https://kevan.org/johari?name=~MS*ANGEL~
    Nohari: https://kevan.org/nohari?name=~MS*ANGEL~

    Quote Originally Posted by Nijntje View Post
    "And then, raising my lids slowly and looking out from underneath my lashes, i captured him with my eyes"
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  5. #5
    ⋆✦⋆ Hiraeth's Avatar
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    It's kind of hard to explain. For me, it goes beyond body image. From how you describe it, she may have some level of body dysmorphia, but that is a very extreme form of negative body image and understandably her view may not be as extreme. For certain people, they have an exaggerated and distorted view on how they see themselves, specifically whatever they perceive as their flaws. And no matter what you say to them, they won't believe you and assume you are lying to them. I would constantly compare myself to others and need someone to reassure me that I wasn't how I saw myself, thinking and hoping that if they said what I perceived wasn't true, my perspective would change, but it never does and only further confirms my suspicions that they are lying to me in order to make me feel better about myself. She'd definitely need someone who can be a good friend to her, and you've definitely shown you care about her, but sometimes under more severe circumstances, a therapist would be appropriate. Does she spend a lot of her time on social media or anything that pertains to an over-glamorized self-image? The media in general has set the bar to impossible beauty standards with constant use of airbrushing and photoshopping, propagating this message that in order for people to have some form of self-worth, they need to adhere to those standards in order to be valued, especially women where, biologically speaking, physical appearance has been a higher caliber of importance in order to attract a mate in life. Can't speak for all, but what has helped me personally was focusing my attention on something that brings meaning to my life that does not merely concern myself, and diverting my attention away from superficial stuff. However, even though I still feel an enormous sense of disgust in regards to my physical appearance, I've accepted this as a fact that I will never see myself as attractive. Yet contributing something greater than myself makes me feel I've done something worthwhile that transcends the physical. So establishing her energy onto something else may help greatly. Also, she may want to look into other women as role models who have done something other than being known for their looks. It may inspire her in that direction. This will take time and effort on her part, but it's definitely possible for her to overcome her insecurities, speaking as someone who has been there and understands the toll it can take on a person's well-being.
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  6. #6
    Somber and irritated cascadeco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malela View Post
    It's kind of hard to explain. For me, it goes beyond body image. From how you describe it, she may have some level of body dysmorphia, but that is a very extreme form of negative body image and understandably her view may not be as extreme. For certain people, they have an exaggerated and distorted view on how they see themselves, specifically whatever they perceive as their flaws. And no matter what you say to them, they won't believe you and assume you are lying to them. I would constantly compare myself to others and need someone to reassure me that I wasn't how I saw myself, thinking and hoping that if they said what I perceived wasn't true, my perspective would change, but it never does and only further confirms my suspicions that they are lying to me in order to make me feel better about myself. She'd definitely need someone who can be a good friend to her, and you've definitely shown you care about her, but sometimes under more severe circumstances, a therapist would be appropriate. Does she spend a lot of her time on social media or anything that pertains to an over-glamorized self-image? The media in general has set the bar to impossible beauty standards with constant use of airbrushing and photoshopping, propagating this message that in order for people to have some form of self-worth, they need to adhere to those standards in order to be valued, especially women where, biologically speaking, physical appearance has been a higher caliber of importance in order to attract a mate in life. Can't speak for all, but what has helped me personally was focusing my attention on something that brings meaning to my life that does not merely concern myself, and diverting my attention away from superficial stuff. However, even though I still feel an enormous sense of disgust in regards to my physical appearance, I've accepted this as a fact that I will never see myself as attractive. Yet contributing something greater than myself makes me feel I've done something worthwhile that transcends the physical. So establishing her energy onto something else may help greatly. Also, she may want to look into other women as role models who have done something other than being known for their looks. It may inspire her in that direction. This will take time and effort on her part, but it's definitely possible for her to overcome her insecurities, speaking as someone who has been there and understands the toll it can take on a person's well-being.
    To add to this, if she is surrounded by people or in an industry/job/culture where there are perceived expectations tied to body image, or where it's above and beyond the 'norm' that a woman already experiences, it will be much harder to pull out of any negative self image that she has. As has already been mentioned, women already by default have a cultural expectation about the Importance of Looks that is integrated from a very young age and is carried on throughout school. To Malela's point, if she doesn't have any role models, friends, interests, hobbies, or whatnot to counteract that, it will be that much harder, especially if she is predisposed psychologically (for whatever reason) to hyperfocus on it and fixate on her appearance. Edit: And if it's really extreme or harming her health/ life, then therapy is likely best.

    OP you are right, words aren't going to help, nor is logic. Also, the aging process is especially hard on women, especially given the aforementioned cultural expectation around appearance. It's an emotional thing, not a logical thing (as you know -- just reiterating it).
    "...On and on and on and on he strode, far out over the sands, singing wildly to the sea, crying to greet the advent of the life that had cried to him." - James Joyce

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    Quote Originally Posted by RadicalDoubt View Post
    what do you think would be the best way to support one who has these feelings?
    Beauty is basically favorable psychological impact.

    Body image is one's own perceived physical beauty.

    So to improve one's body image, I would prove that she/he is physically beautiful, in a detailed manner.

    By "detailed" I mean, I would say how her/his physical properties contribute to psychological impact.

    And then I would explain he/she the psychological impact of all concrete elements of outfits, makeup, hairstyle in an abstract manner.

    And then I would tell he/she how to have the most psychological impact possible, by dressing/making up/doing hair, while taking into account her/his physical properties. First to herself/himself, and then to people.

    I mean, saying "you are beautiful" is not enough. Giving proof is necessary.

    Yes, I have a rational approach to physical beauty and physical self-image.
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    Senior Member cacaia's Avatar
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    In your situation, I would research some books about body image and gift her the one which I would find it most useful to get my point across. Also, It wouldn't hurt to talk with her about the stigma women carry everyday about their bodies in general- we are constantly bombarded with advertisements of models who look skinny, etc...it makes people think that they should all look that way. But that is not reality. The ads most people see on magazines, on the internet, the actors in movies, are all skinny and contribute to a person's negative self image. A conversation about this and about her own discomfort can help her to put things in perspective.

    If this doesn't help, maybe show her some articles about dismorphia or bulimia, and try to rationalize in a sympathetic way such as- "even though I don't relate to this, I am concerned for you that you might become like this. Besides, it's not what counts on the outside that should really matter, it's how wonderful a person you are inside."
    I hope this helps. Keep us posted
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacaia View Post
    we are constantly bombarded with advertisements of models who look skinny, etc...it makes people think that they should all look that way. But that is not reality. The ads most people see on magazines, on the internet, the actors in movies, are all skinny and contribute to a person's negative self image.
    I think most people fear the most actually beautiful women because they think they're "sacred". They probably feel that ordinary beauty can be used commercially (which they feel "profane"), but not extreme beauty (which they feel "sacred"). You almost never see women in extravagant dressing on movies and commercial fashion for the same reason.
    I often say "psychological impact" because it's a central concept to me.
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    Moderator Yuu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiraeth View Post
    It's kind of hard to explain. For me, it goes beyond body image. From how you describe it, she may have some level of body dysmorphia, but that is a very extreme form of negative body image and understandably her view may not be as extreme. For certain people, they have an exaggerated and distorted view on how they see themselves, specifically whatever they perceive as their flaws. And no matter what you say to them, they won't believe you and assume you are lying to them. I would constantly compare myself to others and need someone to reassure me that I wasn't how I saw myself, thinking and hoping that if they said what I perceived wasn't true, my perspective would change, but it never does and only further confirms my suspicions that they are lying to me in order to make me feel better about myself. She'd definitely need someone who can be a good friend to her, and you've definitely shown you care about her, but sometimes under more severe circumstances, a therapist would be appropriate. Does she spend a lot of her time on social media or anything that pertains to an over-glamorized self-image? The media in general has set the bar to impossible beauty standards with constant use of airbrushing and photoshopping, propagating this message that in order for people to have some form of self-worth, they need to adhere to those standards in order to be valued, especially women where, biologically speaking, physical appearance has been a higher caliber of importance in order to attract a mate in life. Can't speak for all, but what has helped me personally was focusing my attention on something that brings meaning to my life that does not merely concern myself, and diverting my attention away from superficial stuff. However, even though I still feel an enormous sense of disgust in regards to my physical appearance, I've accepted this as a fact that I will never see myself as attractive. Yet contributing something greater than myself makes me feel I've done something worthwhile that transcends the physical. So establishing her energy onto something else may help greatly. Also, she may want to look into other women as role models who have done something other than being known for their looks. It may inspire her in that direction. This will take time and effort on her part, but it's definitely possible for her to overcome her insecurities, speaking as someone who has been there and understands the toll it can take on a person's well-being.
    Yep, this is definitely me. Sometimes I wont go outside because I look so bad and dammit, no one is going to tell me otherwise.

    I wish I had some advice from someone who has "been there." but all I can say is no outside influence can help me and it might be the same for her.

    Quote Originally Posted by tony_goth View Post
    Beauty is basically favorable psychological impact.

    Body image is one's own perceived physical beauty.

    So to improve one's body image, I would prove that she/he is physically beautiful, in a detailed manner.

    By "detailed" I mean, I would say how her/his physical properties contribute to psychological impact.

    And then I would explain he/she the psychological impact of all concrete elements of outfits, makeup, hairstyle in an abstract manner.

    And then I would tell he/she how to have the most psychological impact possible, by dressing/making up/doing hair, while taking into account her/his physical properties. First to herself/himself, and then to people.

    I mean, saying "you are beautiful" is not enough. Giving proof is necessary.

    Yes, I have a rational approach to physical beauty and physical self-image.
    Yes, take it from a dude who does not have these issues.

    I wear make up, I have an impeccable sense of fashion but on many days I just feel like ridiculous. Like "Why Bother"? I just look like one of those fops covered in so much make up it just looks greasy and cakey and...gross

    My husband points out my best traits but I don't believe him. Nothing is going to change my mind about my appearance.
    “ they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us…they can’t get away this time”

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    This time I'm screaming back "No! No! No!"
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    My mind's made up, yeah my fear is gone
    Open my eyes now here I come: Oblivion."
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