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Body Image and Social Communication

Body Image is a person's thoughts, feelings and evaluation of its own body, specifically attributed to aesthetics and attractiveness. In fact, most of us are quite good in size and shape which are strictly adhered with our genetically predisposed features and inherited physical aspects. We mostly get what our parents, grand-parents and genetic lineage gives to us, along with a few mutations.

People are not mass produced in factories by machines. However, most of us frequently, unnecessarily, compulsively and obsessively compare themselves with some contemporary and widely advertised standards of physical beauty which entirely are based upon fashion models, actors, actresses, athletes and celebrities.

However, the issue with body image isn't entirely observed in so-called average looking people. As per observations, the individuals who are regarded as more beautiful and attractive than average people also suffer from body image issues and disorder. You might have heard about some of the very famous celebrities, models and actresses sliding into depression due to body image issues and disorder.

Body image also corresponds to self-worth. How worthy you feel about and value yourself affects the way you behave with yourself and treat others. While choosing, attracting and retaining a partner in romantic or marital relationship; issues related body image become more serious but they are suppressed and ignored.

Obsession to meet hypothetical beauty standards imposed by others escalates to physical and psychological disorders that are very difficult to cure. Body image issues or disorder can lead to marital, physical and sexual dissatisfaction too. Also, two partners with dissimilar body images might drift apart due to predictive complex they develop about themselves.

We simply can’t deny importance of body image with respect to the ways we communicate, complement, reciprocate, respond and behave both nonverbally and verbally with others, especially members of the opposite gender. It has been widely observed by researchers and psychologists that persons suffering with body image issues and disorder avoid spontaneous social interactions as much as possible due to lowered or complete lack of self-respect.

Following are of the some combined nonverbal and behavioral clues of a person suffering from negative body image:

1) They smile very rarely, laugh hardly, walk slowly and appear more psychologically occupied, lacking energy and under-confident. They appear depressed and lacking enthusiasm.

2) They get nervous very quickly and ruminate a lot. They adapt defensive or withdrawal postures most of time. They engage themselves in petty tasks for a long time. 

3) They refrain themselves from exposures, interactions, open discussions or debates. They avoid direct eye contact. They don’t take initiatives of themselves.

4) They seat with arched back and maintain downward gaze mostly. They use excessive grooming gestures and try to seek affirmation from others about their beauty and attractiveness.

5) Generally, they stay closer with others who suffer with body image issues. They feel paralyzed when they are isolated from such individuals or their group.

6) They may also impulsively defend to somebody commenting on their appearance even if it’s bogus or a joke.

7) They may express jealousy towards persons (irrespective of gender) having positive body image and stay away from them.

8) They pass sarcastic, jealous or derogatory comments in absence of person whom they suppose to be more beautiful and good looking. In fact, they never genuinely appreciate those good looking individuals.

9) They are more likely to develop eating disorders which are widely known as Bulimia and Anorexia. They hardly can realize that their eating habits are harmful to their health.

10) They frequently peep into mirrors, try different attires that don't match with their social image and copy others blindly. This is more common in youngsters going through or following puberty.
11) They pass immature, illogical and offensive comments to the individuals from their own families about their physical attributes which they perceive as negative.

12) They mostly prefer appearance over performance, purpose, functioning and utility. They try to feel the deep inner void of negative self image with good looking things.

Most women suffer from body image issues world over and there are very strong reasons of same. Especially after World War II, wide-spread education, industrial revolution and socio-economical transformations gave opportunity to women for working in offices, factories, institutions, stores and organizations. Facing, interacting and coming in contact with each other on a large scale made women more conscious than ever before.

At the same time, increasing spread of television, social media, advertisement and fashion industry that thrives to standardize and materialize female (and even male) beauty began creating an illusionary images that women started to chase desperately. Global hike in cosmetic sales, medications and therapies is the strong indicator of the same.
Both men and women can inherit body image issues from their parents. However, two siblings can have dissimilar body images. Those who inherit don't realize that their parents were suffering from them in the first place. Also, their preferences for and expectation in marital partners are dictated by their own parent's hidden, suppressed and unfulfilled wishes.

Following pregnancies, most women develop body image issues and disorder due to sudden change in body shape and size. Many women might choose very weird ways to regain their self-respect and confidence which are not easily understood or accepted by male partners.

Only way to overcome body image issues is to accept inheritance and adapt healthy practices. Don’t compare your physical features with others at all. Equating healthiness with beauty should be kept in mind.

Persons acutely suffering from body image issues for a prolonged period o time should approach counselors or psychologists as early as possible.

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