What Is the Connection between Weight and Body Image?

Esther Ejim

Weight and body image often go together in forming the way a person feels about his or her appearance. A lot of people define themselves by the totality of their image, which includes aspects like clothes, accessories and body weight. The body image here refers to the way people perceive themselves and the way they believe other people perceive them. People who find their bodies lacking in any perceived or desired attribute may suffer from a low self-esteem resulting from the supposed flaws. This type of feeling is further intensified when a culture promotes a certain body type as the ideal type of body.

A healthy body image is the positive and realistic perception of the size and shape of one's body.
A healthy body image is the positive and realistic perception of the size and shape of one's body.

This body type promotion affects body image by causing vulnerable people to suffer from feelings that they do not measure up to the standards set by the society. From their point of view, this failing makes them ugly and might cause them to feel unaccepted. The effect of weight and body image is not restricted to any economic class, because it affects the rich as well as the poor. People who have the best clothes, live in the best houses, and drive the most expensive cars may still consider themselves failures if they fail to measure up to the ideal body image treasured by the society.

Some people may go to extremes to acquire their ideal body image.
Some people may go to extremes to acquire their ideal body image.

This pressure is profound on obese people who may suffer from their own doubts and from the way other people might relate to them. Even children are not exempt from the effect of weight and body image, because obese children are often the brunt of cruel taunts from their peers. Such marginalization often causes obese people to suffer from depression as a result of low self-esteem. The media makes the whole situation worse through the promotion of images of thin, beautiful people projected as the personification of the ultimate body type. The constant advertising of diet pills, weight loss programs, and exercise paraphernalia also intensify the pressure to attain the desired body type.

Some people may go to extremes to acquire their ideal body image through avenues like surgery and the development of eating disorders. People with anorexia often feel that they are fatter than they actually are, showing another connection between weight and body image. They starve themselves to get rid of the imaginary fat, which often causes them to become malnourished. They may also start to exhibit an irrational fear of food, which may be seen in such actions as counting every calorie they consume and by inducing vomit anytime they feel they have eaten too much.

People with eating disorders often have distorted body images.
People with eating disorders often have distorted body images.

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