If you asked your whānau or your mates what the most important part of you was, they probably wouldn’t say your looks. But this might not stop you from thinking your body is in some way wrong.

Body image is how you see, think and feel about your physical appearance. When you base your self-worth almost entirely on the way you look, you’re ignoring all the other awesome qualities, accomplishments and abilities that make you yourself.

This is really common when hormones are flying round doing crazy things to your body. It’s important you don’t let what you focus on when you look in the mirror warp the way you feel on the inside. Not looking the way you think you should, could lead to low self-esteem, feeling insecure, and even avoiding situations where people might have to see your body.

All this can leave you more open to anxiety and depression.

When body image becomes a focus, you can start overestimating your weight or thinking your muscles should be bigger. Having these feelings can give you distorted thoughts about your body and change the way you eat and exercise.

Eating disorders are common and, believe it or not, aren’t actually about food. They’re about using food to cope with painful emotions like anger, hating yourself, feeling helpless, and fear - whether you refuse food to feel in control, binge for comfort, or purge to punish yourself. If you have an eating disorder you could be thinking about eating (or not eating) all the time, feeling out-of-control or anxious around food or exercising non-stop.

One of the most common eating disorders is Anorexia. This is where losing weight becomes the most important thing in your life.

Binge eating is where you eat and eat and feel out of control and powerless to stop.

Bulimia is a vicious cycle where you eat heaps and then punish yourself by getting rid of the food or exercising until you’re worn out.

To start dealing with your eating disorder check out the Mental Health Foundation site. It’s loaded with self-help advice, treatment, and support to help you regain your self-esteem and improve your eating habits.

 

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