Women of all ages can struggle with body acceptance. Research shows that this is due to a number of factors, including weight, beauty standards set by the media and changes that take place in women’s bodies as they age. The body positivity movement encourages women to accept their bodies as they are and not feel like they must meet certain standards for weight, beauty and their appearance in general. Women who struggle with body positivity often find it affects key areas of their lives, including personal relationships and career decisions. Better understanding of the issue can be the first step in a happier and potentially healthier direction.
Body Image and Mental Health
Body image is the way people feel about their own bodies. Poor body image is a general experience reported by people of any age and may not be related to being either overweight or underweight. Many studies have shown that feeling bad about personal appearance can significantly affect mental health, especially in adolescents and young women. Having a negative body image is linked to:
- Lower self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Potential for eating disorders, especially in adolescents.
If negative thoughts and feelings about body image keep recurring or intensifying, evaluation by a provider can help. Support and treatment options are available for those experiencing extreme symptoms of this condition, called body dysmorphic disorder.
What Changes Happen During Your 20s?
Although it may seem like the majority of women in their 20s would have a positive body image, this is not necessarily true for many. This may be in large part due to changes that happen in your body during this time in your life. While there are positive changes, such as reaching maximum bone mass and muscle strength, many women also gain weight during their 20s.
Weight gain can happen due to a number of reasons. Hormonal changes can lead to fat being stored in different areas of your body, and you might notice this in your hips or other areas. In addition, lifestyle factors can cause weight gain. For example, many women in their 20s begin working jobs that require sitting for long periods. In addition, stress and lack of time can lead to dietary changes that contribute to weight gain, as well as lack of exercise.
How to Accept Your Body
Your body image doesn’t have to depend on your weight or beauty standards. Feeling healthier overall can support body positivity. Try these tips:
- Take care of yourself physically. Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly, which can also help improve your mental health.
- Wear clothes that make you feel good. Get rid of clothes that no longer fit and dress for the body you have now.
- Unfollow social media that triggers body dissatisfaction. Only follow accounts that spark positive feelings.
- Pursue your interests. Doing things that bring you joy help you feel good about yourself.
- Practice stress relief. Meditate, write in a journal or talk to loved ones about your feelings.
Talk to a Professional
Questions about developing healthy habits? Find a St. Elizabeth provider who can help.