“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.”
― Simone de Beauvoir
When we hear the words body image it may bring to mind looking at ourselves in the mirror, but this is not exactly what the term means. Body image is a psychological representation or how you see yourself in your mind’s eye…and it’s not always an accurate picture. Our mental image of ourselves is based on feelings rather than facts and these feelings are constantly changing. We all know that on days we are feeling a little down we aren’t so thrilled with our body image either. These feelings together with media images of unattainable perfection can be disempowering and defeating and cause us to nit-pick at our physical qualities. Whether it’s the celebrity that got her postpartum figure back in the blink of an eye, or our idea of how we should look, our internal critic can be harsh.
Eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa (AN), Bulimia Nervosa (BN) and Binge Eating Disorder (BED) are psychiatric illnesses that are highly correlated with poor body image and depression (ANAD, 2014). Life experiences, cultural beliefs and attitudes about attractiveness also play a significant role in the development of eating disorders and poor body image (Miller & Pumariega, 2001).
However we come to have thoughts of dissatisfaction with the way we look, the cycle of negative feelings can be punishing and painful. The focus on perfectionism with these kinds of issues makes art therapy the perfect medium to literally make a MESS! The inherent uniqueness or of art therapy is that there is no good or bad, no wrong way of doing it, and so it’s good practice for messing up. Break the rules of aesthetics and perfection! Get a new view on what can be beautiful. Art making can be a chaotic patchwork of colorful imperfection…and lovely to behold.
Brooke, S. L. (Ed.). (2008). The creative therapies and eating disorders. Charles C Thomas Publisher.
Miller, M. N., & Pumariega, A. J. (2001). Culture and eating disorders: A historical and cross-cultural review. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 64(2), 93-110.
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.(2014). Eating disorders statistics. Retrieved from: www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/