“Body image issues are tied to weight stigma or bias which in of itself is a type of trauma. This is problematic because this trauma is experienced daily, for the most part, through direct mistreatment or bullying around body size and/or the subliminal suggestions experienced daily by all of us that larger bodies are directly tied to a moral defect in character and automatically equal poor health. The messages we receive daily via family, friends, and everyone we cross paths with encourage us, mostly unknowingly, to change our bodies. We should be ever vigilant to eat the right foods, do the right amount of exercise, apologize for eating too much, insist we are bad when we overeat, judge one another wherever food is involved, talk about eating moderately, and make sure to continually be unhappy about our body size and appearance as a way to fit in to the groups of people we like, admire, and/or love.”What can be done? As a society letâ€™s not wait for the obvious to be stated aloud. Feeling good about oneâ€™s body means one accepts her/his body at the very moment s/he is in. It is important to be perceptive and on guard to the assault of defining beauty. What does that look like? Parents, think twice before looking in the mirror and picking apart every flaw you feel you have about your body with the kids in the room. Donâ€™t equate self worth to external beauty. Instead, define beautiful as being intelligent, funny, compassionate, joyful, etc. Allow yourself to believe you are enough just the way you are. Start by defining beauty for your family, your circle of friends, and your co-workers. Stop conversations when they focus on diets, body figures and degrading talk about skinny, fat, obese or any other adjective. To a large extent, society has allowed the media to define what beauty is, itâ€™s time for society to rewrite the definition. Change the conversation!
Dr. Brad Zehring is aÂ PsychiatristÂ who has a passion for creating conversation and decreasing the stigma of mental health. He works out of Banner GoodÂ SamaritanÂ Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Follow him on Twitter at @DrZehringDO
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