August 22, 2023

Real Talk: Breaking Down Negative Body Image and Negative Self Talk

Today, we’re covering something that touches so many of us: negative self-image and body image. In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with images of ‘perfection’, it’s easy to feel like we don’t measure up.  You are certainly not alone in this and, together, we can navigate these challenging feelings and thoughts.  It’s important to recognise feelings of shame or unhappiness that can arise from a negative body image; constantly pointing out these flaws increases anxious thoughts or depressive feelings … more on that later.

The Barbie Dilemma

Seen the blockbuster movie?  Even if you didn’t, you definitely can’t have missed the hype surrounding it!  And it’s not just for girls!  Barbie isn’t anti boys or men, it’s anti fake and phoney and that also means it’s about keeping it real, being the real you – flaws and all. Not something the doll really represents with her impossibly tiny waist and long legs. In fact, if Barbie were real, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions! ?

Now, while we can appreciate Barbie for the iconic toy she is, it’s essential to remember that she’s just that—a toy. Her body isn’t a standard to aspire to; it’s a fantasy. And while fantasies can be fun, they shouldn’t dictate how we feel about our own bodies – through social media may make you think differently…!

The Social Media Spiral

Next up we have the ‘gram, TikTok, and all those platforms we love (and sometimes love to hate). Social media can be a fantastic place to connect, share, and learn. But it can also be a breeding ground for comparison and self-doubt. Filters, angles, and lighting can make anyone look like a supermodel. But behind those perfect shots are often hundreds of attempts, some good lighting, and maybe a sprinkle of Photoshop.

Men Aren’t Exempt

It’s a common misconception that body image issues only affect women. Not true! Men face their own set of pressures, from having the perfect six-pack to being tall and muscular. The “ideal” male body, as portrayed in media, can be just as unattainable as its female counterpart. So, guys, we see you!

Countering Negative Body Image

So, how can we start to challenge these thoughts and feelings from an evidence-based, real view perspective?

  • Reality Check: Remember that what you see online isn’t always real. Behind every ‘perfect’ photo is a story, a struggle, and often, a filter.
  • Positive Affirmations: Start your day by looking in the mirror and saying something kind about yourself. It might feel silly at first, but trust us, it helps.
  • Limit Social Media: If certain accounts or platforms make you feel down about yourself, take a break. Your mental well-being is more important than any newsfeed.
  • Seek Support: Talk to friends, family, or professionals about how you feel. You’d be surprised how many people feel the same way and how much speaking about it can help.
  • Celebrate Diversity: Try to embrace and celebrate all body types, including your own. Everybody is unique.

So while you may feel the world has its preferences, the only one that truly matters is your own. You are worthy, enough and deserving of love and acceptance, just as you are.  Let’s lift each other up and remember that our worth isn’t determined by our reflection in the mirror but by the love and kindness in our hearts.

If you need a little extra help – try our worksheet for overcoming negative self talk – it’s a brilliant first step in changing your habits


CBT for changing negative thoughts and behaviours

If you feel depressed or in a low mood regularly, or you’re feeling anxious and it’s something you feel you can’t manage, do consider contacting us for some help.  Our Cognitive Behavioural Therapists (CBT) can help you focus on changing patterns of thinking or behaviour; they can treat various common challenges, including anxiety, social anxiety, low mood, depression and much more.  Think of CBT as a problem-solving technique that teaches you the skills to overcome negative and destructive thinking patterns – it can be life-changing to be free of these challenging problems that can dominate life.

In CBT, the idea is that it’s not the ‘event’ or ‘situation’ that creates our emotions, it’s how we interpret things or the meaning that we give it. It emphasises the critical role that thoughts (cognitive) and actions (behavioural) play in creating and maintaining often unhelpful belief systems.

For instance, in more acute instances such as body dysmorphic disorder, this may manifest in the following ways:

  • Cognitive factors: negative body image, overly critical of weight and shape, and negative self-evaluation
  • Behavioural factors: restricting food, binge eating, purging, body checking, and avoiding

Cognitive behavioural therapy helps to identify which factors are playing a role in maintaining a negative body image and then works to address each one by teaching the skills necessary to allow healing to occur and behaviour to change.

Contact Danielle to discuss how we can help you, we really do see everyone as an individual and pride ourselves on offering a warm and friendly place to get advice and support.