Body Image & Self-Esteem Treatment Program

When you look in the mirror of your dressing room, what is reflected back at you? If you are like many girls and women, you don’t see an accurate depiction of your mirrored image. In other words, your mind’s eye may become critical of your body image and you may become self-deprecating. Many girls and women have severe body dissatisfaction and what they actually see in the mirror is past and present experiences, of forgotten praises and remembered insults about their body. Perhaps they describe themselves as too hippy, too fat, flat or full busted, or too short or tall. Distorted body image is similar to being colorblind in that the individual does not actually see an accurate assessment of their body size.

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Body Image and Self-Esteem

“Of all the ways people think of themselves, none is so primal as the image of their own bodies,” says April Fallon, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “The way we view our bodies is a reflection of our self-esteem.” Thus, body image and self-esteem are closely correlated and go hand in hand for women. According to Dr. Fallon, who has done extensive research on body image, she reports that girls and women are generally less satisfied with their bodies, in particular with their weight, than boys and men. Her studies have shown that many of the women report that they are heavier than they actually are and overestimate the size of their body. What’s even more interesting is that women’s perception of what men consider to be the ideal female figure is significantly thinner than the figure that males actually desire. According to Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D. and the author of Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, self-esteem has two components. One is a sense of basic confidence in the face of life’s challenges: self-efficacy. The other is a sense of being worthy of happiness: self-respect. Self-efficacy simply means that one has the confidence in their abilities to think through issues, make healthy decisions, and to become more self-reliant. Self-respect means that one has confidence in asserting themselves and assurance that one is a valuable person.

The Walker Wellness Clinic offers a comprehensive psycho educational support group on how to improve one’s body image and foster positive self-esteem. The objective is to improve self-esteem since the higher one’s self-esteem; the more likely one is to embrace their body image. Clearly, there is a positive correlation between self-esteem and body image and our hope is that the individual learns to validate their own self-esteem and body image and not look to others for approval. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”