Negative Body Image A GLOBAL ISSUE
POWERFUL ATTENTION TO THE BODY IS FEATURED ALL AROUND US IN ALL FACETS OF MASS AND SOCIAL MEDIA. THE IDEA OF HAVING A PERFECT BODY IS TRANSMITTED THROUGH THE MEDIA AND IN EVERYDAY CONVERSATION WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS—PARENTS AND PEERS. THE FOCUS IS ON THE PURSUIT OF BEAUTY THROUGH COSMETICS, CLOTHING, HAIR STYLING, NAIL ENHANCEMENT, EXERCISE, AND DIETING AS WELL AS COSMETIC SURGERY. FOR SOME, NO AMOUNT OF TIME, EFFORT, OR MONEY IS CONSIDERED TOO MUCH. WRITTEN BY JUDITH RASBAND, CEO, CONSELLE L.C . Body image assessments reveal that a negative body image is experienced by virtually all women and girls, with men and boys also afflicted. Dissatisfaction with the body is a major contributor to a negative body image and low levels of self esteem—of how they feel about themselves as a whole. Anxiety and eating disorders often follow. Instilled in every society and pushed by Western world media, negative body image is now a global issue of concern. Pressure is on sub-cultural groups of individuals that idealize the perfect body. This includes fitness buffs, gymnasts, athletes, dancers, models, and movie stars. They do register higher rates of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. They, in turn, influence the general public so that satisfaction or dissatisfaction with appearance will be a result of the degree to which they do or do not meet the socio-cultural ideal set up according to worldly standards. The socio-cultural ideal woman is tall and thin, with moderately large breasts and long legs, large eyes, clear skin, and a tan. The socio-cultural ideal man is tall and muscular, with broad shoulders and narrow waist, thick hair, scruffy beard, and also tan. While it is virtually impossible for women and men to achieve these ideals by healthy means, they are nonetheless accepted and adopted as the reference by which to judge themselves— invariably resulting in body dissatisfaction and a negative body image. Tools To Facilitate A Positive Body Image Changing the perception of the body often leads to a changed body image. Dress and grooming are agents of change—both body changing and mind changing. More specifically, changing the shape of clothing can change body image boundaries— easily improving the body silhouette. Layering
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clothing works wonders to camouflage a body area or balance the body. A change in hairstyle may reduce the overpowering effect of a wide, high forehead. In turn, the body may be perceived and accepted in a more positive manner. Better yet, dress and grooming can effectively prevent body image problems from developing— making the unconscious reflection a conscious, purposeful, projection fostering feelings of acceptance through the ability to regularly recognize, select, and coordinate clothes that fit and flatter the body. The achievement of a more realistic body image allows for the positive application of visual design in dress, therefore enhancing self presentation as well as interactions and relationships with others. This is image management or therapy in action. One of my niche markets is women who want a great fit in their clothes. This is due to a textbook I wrote during my years as BYU faculty in fashion and fitting. The Third Edition of that book, Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach to the Art of Style Selection, Fitting, and Alteration, has just been released, making this abbreviated case example a timely topic.
I explain how their figure variations add up to one of eight body types, or combination of body types. Dressed down to a leotard and tights, they identify my body variations and my combination body type. They realize they’re not so different after all. If I can talk openly about my body, maybe they can too. A positive change in their thinking continues. Next, I demonstrate concepts for clothing style selection according to their body type. I make multiple clothing changes to make the concepts come alive. My participants understand and really begin to feel hopeful about themselves. They work through more card sorts and practice diagramming the concept for themselves to reinforce what they’ve learned and seen played out. Finally, we hit the local stores I’ve pre-determined will provide the clothing style selections they need. There, I carry on a non-stop monolog about what we are seeing and experiencing as they try on clothing styles recommended for their body type. Feeling attractive—lovely to look at—in the clothes for the first time in years and knowing why they work, the transformation is complete. A memorable client, having been with me through the entire process, came to tell me in tears, “I’ve been feeling so bad about myself, overwhelmed by my weight, weighed down, sinking, drowning. But because of this Retreat, gradually I’ve felt myself rising. I can see the light above me. Seeing myself in the mirror, looking so nice, I feel like I’ve broken through. Out in the light I feel like myself, only better—even pretty. I feel like going places, being with people again, and knowing I look nice, great! Now that I know what to look for among the clothing styles I have to choose from, I feel I’m in control of how I look and I love the way that feels!” Better yet, dress and grooming can effectively prevent body image problems from developing— making the unconscious reflection a conscious, purposeful, projection fostering feelings of acceptance through the ability to regularly recognize, select, and coordinate clothes that flatter the body. The achievement of a more realistic body image allows for the positive application of visual design in dress, therefore enhancing self-presentation as well as interactions and relationships with others. This is image management or therapy in action.
Truth be known, most women have parts of their bodies they don’t like. Most are disappointed or disgusted to the point of a negative body image. Needing solutions to their problems, I decided to offer Fabulous Fit and Fashion Retreats. Fully engaged, participants carry out several of my cardsort interactive and expressive exercises regarding their bodies. They experience my visual hands-on method of evaluating their body for variations. Gradually they begin to change their thinking about themselves.
Judith Rasband MS AICI CIM is CEO of the Conselle Institute of Image Management (Conselle.com), residing in Orem, Utah. She works with the influence and expressive effects of dress and image on wellness and successful living. firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on Jul 3, 2017
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