What Influences Body Image?

Body image is a complex phenomenon and rarely boils down to just one thing.  It can be shaped by an individual's mind set and biology, the influence of industry (food, fashion, fitness and beauty), media (traditional media, social media, advertising world), influencers (peer groups, family) and the society and culture we live in. 

Gender is a major sociological factor when considering body image and its impact on people. Body image has traditionally been viewed as more of a female issue, but increasingly we see boys and men struggling with their body image too.

The Food, Fashion, Fitness and Beauty industries also all impact our body image to a greater or lesser extent. Depending on where we fall on the spectrum, how these industries affect us will vary. They prey on our weaknesses especially around fitting in and they convince us that we need to buy the latest and greatest item to keep up with the ever-changing trends.

With the omnipresence of advertising, plastic surgery has become an enormous influence on society. It is easily accessibility (you can now have Botox done at superdrug) which is contributing to reasons why plastic surgery is being done with very little thought. 

Media - what a powerful influence … on us all. There is much greater access to media than ever before – social media keeps us informed of every move people make. With all that exposure comes a widespread dissemination of attitude that “perfection” is attainable. People feel pressure to be thin and to resemble celebrities. However, most if not all of these photos are edited, and whilst it seems as though “perfection” is attainable, this sadly results in almost half (45%) feeling ashamed about the way they look.

Some of the key influencers in a young persons life are friends, parents, teachers and coaches.. The people you surround yourself with influence you both positively and negatively. Being mindful about how you feel in people’s presence can help you when choosing who to surround yourself with.