September 14, 2015

Body Image Tip: Patterns

Your brain is really good at looking for patterns (eg red bugs are often poisonous, things that smell bad are probably rotten etc). You can use this skill for good or evil as it is used to make associations to try to keep us safe. If the associations your brain has learned (often through media and advertising where we see thousands of images every day) aren’t correct and are causing you to feel worse about your body or other people’s bodies, (for eg thin = confident, big = dowdy, muscular = masculine) then you can actively seek out more visual information to disprove these patterns and find new ones (eg anyone in an open posture tends to look confident regardless of body shape).

For example the average Australian woman is a size 16. This is certainly not what we are used to seeing as the average when we watch TV – but sometimes we see more people on TV than we do in real life and our brain notices a pattern that is based on an incorrect association because of skewed data, so many people will assume that the average woman is a size 8-10.

Changing what you see can change the way you think, which can change the way you feel about yourself and about others. Take control of the images you expose yourself to. Make the effort to look at more bodies that look like yours that are being presented in positive ways, make the effort to look at more bodies that look different from the ones you would see in advertising and movies, minimize the amount of advertising you are exposed to (ad block is great for the internet), stop following pages that make you feel crappy, and critically evaluate whether the bodies you see in a movie represent the community – and really look at the bodies you see walking down the street.

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