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Body Image

Body Image is composed of:

1) The mental representation of our own physical body (e.g., size, shape, appearance), and

2) Our attitude towards our physical selves (e.g., thoughts, feelings, beliefs).

Body image is fluid and changes over time, based on culture, mood, societal norms, and interactions with family and friends.

Body image is not dictated by physical measurements, it is dictated by how one feels about one's physical measurements. Body image is composed of attitudes, not tangible measurements or sizesThis explains why going on a diet or exercising to improve body image is not effective.

Many individuals experiencing an eating disorder attach their self-worth to their weight. This is important to acknowledge while providing support during recovery. Teasing can be especially destructive and should always be avoided.

Causes of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders do not have a single cause and each case will be different. They are influenced by several biological, psychological, and/or environmental factors that may occur together.

Biological examples:

  • Irregular hormone functions
  • A genetic component has been identified in the development of eating disorders

Psychological examples:

  • Negative body image / body dissatisfaction
  • Internalization of the "thin" ideal
  • Poor self-esteem

Environmental examples:

  • Dysfunctional family dynamics
  • Professions, careers, or being involved in sports that promote weight loss
  • Excessive social media use
  • Exposure to the thin-ideal portrayed by the media