Thinking Your Way to a Better Body Image

by on Dec.13, 2010, under Weight Loss

Now that Mary has lost 10 pounds and weighs in at 155, her friends, family, and coworkers often tell her how great she looks. Yet when Mary looks in the mirror, she thinks, “I’m disgusting.” She immediately zeros in on what the kids at school called “thunder thighs.” Although stepping on the scale four or five times a day confirms her weight loss, Mary still sees the image of a “fat person.” Mary tries on several outfits that she bought one size too small to help herself get motivated for weight loss, but settles on her usual oversized sweater and black stretch pants. Mary wonders if the weight management program is working at all. She decides that she might as well skip breakfast so she can fit into those new clothes sooner.

Ann also weighs 155 pounds. When she looks in the mirror, she thinks to herself, “I look great, and the aerobic classes have given me more energy.” She notices that her legs look and feel stronger. Although Ann hasn’t weighed herself in several weeks, she knows she is doing well in her weight management program because she looks and feels good. Ann prepares a well-balanced breakfast of cereal, skim milk, and fruit to start the day.

The stories of Mary and Ann highlight the importance of body image. Mary’s weight loss speaks to the way she has changed on the outside but not on the inside. Successful weight management requires striving to change both physical appearance and mental perception of appearance. While many women believe they will be happier if they are thinner, research has shown that those who do meet the body/beauty ideal are just as likely to be unhappy about their appearance as women who do not.


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