Organic Spa Blog

Banish a Bummer Body Image

Women of every shape and size should learn to love and appreciate their bodies, but it requires nourishing positive body images as we age, and helping our daughters, sisters and other young people protect themselves from strict dieting and eating disorders. The earlier a person with an eating disorder seeks treatment, in fact, the greater the likelihood of emotional recovery, according to the National Eating Disorders fact sheet. Research proves that younger women (average age 25) may have the hardest time embracing their figures, even more than older women (average age 45) or young men.

Men aren’t too far behind in the poor body image awards, however, and the numbers are staggering: Nearly 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their lives. Though all consumers are bombarded by daily images that they’re not pretty or thin enough, one small study at Ohio State University says that being younger and more impressionable is a big risk factor for eating disorders.

To protect at-risk dieters, Ohio State examined 15 college women with very positive body images, and researchers found interesting common characteristics:

• These students tend to heed positive information or feedback about their bodies and consistently reject negative messages.

• They take great care of their bodies—exercising almost every day, sleeping well and allowing themselves to eat healthfully without strict dieting.

• They seek out other people who also feel good about themselves, not those people whose lives center on appearance.

Resolve to love the body you’re in: Chances are you’ll not only be happier, but be healthier as well.

According to another 2013 study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill involving 1,800 women 50 and older, only 12 percent claimed they were self-satisfied with their bodies. Those who did also enjoyed better quality of life, optimal daily functioning, and they tended to exercise more than women who were dissatisfied with their looks. Interestingly, the more active, self-confident women also had less envy of other, mostly younger women—and less yearning for their younger selves.

“These positive women actively work at body satisfaction,” says psychologist and lead author Cristin Runfola, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina. “But their weight and body shape don’t seem to have a negative impact on their lives.”

She says, “It’s also very possible that some women don’t buy the stereotypical messages that only thin, young women are attractive.”

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