Body image struggles can manifest in various forms and in the smallest of ways for us. I know it personally did not take me a long time to realize I had a poor body image. But beyond negative thoughts and ideas about what I wish I could change about my appearance, I thought I was fine. I thought it stopped there. I thought I had everything under control. I thought that these obsessive, negative thoughts and actions were normal, and just a part of my life as a teenage girl and young woman. But they aren’t normal, and we need to stop treating them as such. An important way to combat body image obsession is through knowledge and awareness. Becoming in tune with your thoughts, feelings and actions will help you in your journey to body image freedom. Let’s look at 4 common signs of an unhealthy and obsessive body image.
4 common signs that you’re obsessed with your body image
- Wanting to eat alone. Are you skipping a Friday night trip to Bruster’s for ice cream? Or maybe it’s a dinner and movie date? What about a summer picnic with friends? Do you panic if you have to eat out and can’t control your food or meal? Avoiding social situations that involve food or feeling anxious about eating out and with others is a common sign that you have become obsessed with your body image. If you are constantly thinking about what food you will or will not eat, and when you will or will not eat it, then this is another sign body image is consuming your life. Especially if these pervasive thoughts dictate what you do during your day—whether or not you join friends for that picnic or go out to eat after school/work. If body image has become the most important than anything else in your life, such as friendships, then you have a body image obsession.
- Worrying about what you wear. Do you have to get fully ready any time you leave your house or see anyone? Are your first thoughts after you wake up in the morning or before you fall asleep at night about how you will dress? Do you often worry about what you will wear? Do you try on 10+ outfits each day to look just right? Do you attempt to cover up certain body parts or show off a lot of skin? Repeated concern about what you will wear or how you look is a common sign of body image obsession. In fact, this could also actually be a sign of a deeper struggle with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). For more on my BDD experience, read My Body Changed & I Hate It: Comparison and Body Dysmorphia.
- Never skipping a workout or taking a rest day. Do you allow yourself to skip a workout from time to time? Do you let your body have at least one day to rest and recover each week? If not, this is a sign that you have become obsessed with your body image. Do you feel anxious when you find yourself too busy to work out or do engage in a rest and recovery day off from exercise? If so, this is also a sign that you have become obsessed with your body image. The biggest sign that your exercise habit is actually unhealthy and obsessive is exercising too often and intensely in order to compensate or punish yourself for your daily food intake, or what you perceive to be true about your body. Do you cancel plans at the last minute or adjust your schedule to accommodate your mandatory workouts? First off, if your workouts include the word “mandatory,” this is a problem. But even more so is planning your day around your workouts. It’s okay to be disciplined in your exercise and to take care of your body, but discipline looks much different than this.
- “Do it for the gram.” Do you need to take a picture and post it to Instagram everywhere you go? Do you find yourself going different places, just so you can get a cute picture to post? Are your thoughts focused more on getting the perfect picture while you’re out than on enjoying the experience and those there with you? Do the number of likes your picture gets mean more to you than someone’s compliment of you and your character? Friend, if you answered yes to any or all of the previous questions, then you are obsessed with your body image. What consumes your mind, controls your life. If you are consumed by “Instagrammable” moments and your number of likes/followers, then you have become obsessed with your body image.
I know this can be hard to hear and swallow friends, but what consumes your mind ultimately controls your life. Do you really want to be obsessed with and controlled by your body image? Don’t feel discouraged if you’re now aware of your body image obsession. Awareness and acceptance are the first significant steps towards healing and freedom! You can be free from your obsessive thoughts and controlling actions. You do not need to live with or tolerate your body image struggles anymore. See my other blogs for more information on healing and freedom.
Hi there, I’m Amber! I am a newly minted college graduate from Messiah University with my bachelor’s in Public Relations. I’m a sister, daughter, soon-to-be aunt, friend, writer, athlete, life-long learner…but most importantly, I’m a beloved daughter of God.
I’m just a 22-year-old perfectionist from a small suburb that knows what it feels like to lose hope and to struggle with love, worth, acceptance, grace, body image, comparison, the list goes on. My passion is to serve and bless others, spread kindness, and share the love and hope found in both knowing Jesus intimately and walking through life with him. My prayer is that everyone may be filled with the eternal love, joy and freedom that only comes from a relationship with Jesus, so that they may overflow with love for others and glorify God in all they do.