All research to date on body image shows that women are much more critical of their appearance than men and much less likely to admire what they see in the mirror. Up to eight out of ten women will be dissatisfied with their reflection, and more than half may see a distorted image. (Social Issues Research Centre)
However, being self-conscious is one thing, and feeling disgusted about how you look and yearning for a drastically different body type is another, so try this quiz to see how you fare on the body-conscious scale.
1. When you look at your body are you only able to see its flaws? Yes/No
2. Do you feel having a great body is out of your reach? Yes/No
3. Do you feel your life would be 100 per cent better if you had been given a taller/shorter/curvier/thinner body? Yes/No
4. Does the perfect body exist? Yes/No
5. Do you feel ashamed when you catch sight of your own reflection? Yes/No
6. Do you think about your body shape more than three times a day? Yes/No
More than 5 yeses: You don't need this quiz to tell you you're overly preoccupied with your body shape, because you already know it and it's probably making you completely miserable. There are, however, techniques that will help you to view your body size more realistically such as: avoiding magazines that fixate on the shape of celebrities; diversifying what you watch so that you can see that TV programmes and films do actually reflect all shapes, sizes and variations in attractiveness; confronting the way the female form is discussed by your family and friends and pointing out how their comments and attitudes make you feel about your own body.
More than 3 yeses: You're on your way to being too body conscious. You need to look at what and who is feeding your body-shape obsession and view what you're seeing and hearing about bodies more realistically.
Fewer than 2 yeses: Congratulations, you're able to view your body in a healthy way, but make sure you stay that way by not falling prey to influences such as magazines and TV programmes that fixate on the shape of celebrities and how people look.
This extract is taken from Think Yourself Gorgeousby Anita Naik which provides honest, down-to-earth and reassuring advice for girls entering their teenage years. Piatkus will publish Anita's next book The Lazy Girl's Guide to a Blissful Pregnancy in June.
Anita Naik is a freelance writer, author and columnist specialising in parenting, pregnancy and lifestyle issues. She writes regularly for a variety of magazines including Glamour, Red and Prima Baby and was previously the agony aunt on Just 17, Closer and TV Quick magazines.
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