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Body Image

Do You Love the Skin You’re In?

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, do I love my body after all?  When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you like what you see?  Poor body image may lead to a variety of problems, including eating disorders, obsessive exercise, dangerous diets, and drug abuse.  While poor body image may be seen as a predominantly female disorder, studies show that it is just as common in males. Women tend to be more concerned about being thin and having a fuller bust size, while men tend to focus on hair loss and increasing muscle mass.

The constant quest to look more attractive may contribute to the development of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).  This mental disorder is characterized by an excessive dissatisfaction with slight or imagined physical features.  When someone with BDD looks in the mirror, they see a distorted version of themselves.  However, BDD does not just include weight dissatisfaction.  Those who are affected by BDD are usually deeply upset or disgusted about their skin, hair, and/or nose, but any part of the body may be an area of concern.

Ask for support and encouragement when life gets too stressful.

Forget fad diet programs that promise miraculous results.  Concentrate on developing a well balanced diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.  The dining halls provide daily nutrition information at food.rutgers.edu.  This allows you to plan your meal before heading to the dining hall of your choice.

Focus on overall mental and physical health, not just weight.

Exercise regularly in an enjoyable way.  Go for a walk with a friend or participate in a fitness class at one of the campus recreation centers.

Reach out and visit one of the health centers.  Counselors there can help you develop a positive outlook.  For more information, visit edteam.rutgers.edu.

Accept that genetics cannot be changed—the ideal body does not exist. We are all different sizes and shapes!

Does this mean we are doomed to a life of being ashamed of our bodies?  Of course not!  The trick is to learn how to develop a healthy lifestyle including good nutrition, proper exercise, and a psychologically healthful view of your own body.       

You Are More Beautiful Than You Think!

Revised by: Andrea Ficarra, Reviewed By: Dr. John Worobey –Department of Nutritional Sciences
References: The Presentation of Body Dysmorphic Disorder in Medical Settings.  Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1712667/.  Accessed on: April 17, 2013. Worobey, J Nutrition and Behavior. Cambridge, USA: CABI Publishing; 2006.
Dove Real Beauty Sketches.  Available at: http://realbeautysketches.dove.us/.  Accessed on: April 20, 2013.
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