Below is an interesting Ted talk I came across addressing the issue of Body Image or rather sexualised body images portrayed in the media and the effects on mostly women. This honest article also reviews this talk and the issues raised.
These issues can be at times delicate among women and often kept private as many try to hide their insecurities or how they really feel.
The point I find interesting that she mentions is where we need to raise girls (and also females in general) to see bodies as tools for mastering our environment. When I first joined the mountaineering and climbing club in University I remember that I enjoyed hillwalking and the other activities so much. I remember thinking that during those activities, I was so proud of my body for accomplishing things, I was out of my head for a while, out of thinking etc and just enjoying the activity and feeling healthy. When I started Yoga, I had a similar experience in some of my first classes and on top of that I saw and remember clearly thinking how everyone in the room was equal, we could all enjoy movement, we could all have our own learning experiences and what we looked like or what size we were didn't really matter. In both these experiences in my life, I came to see and use my body as a tool to master my environment and I became proud of all the great things about my body.
I am vulnerable at times like many females into falling into negative thought patterns with regard to image, but through activities in my life I have learnt to let go of these thoughts and mostly not have them in the first place!
Im sure this discussion on body image perception could be debated forever, what is important is to observe the thoughts for yourself. As yoga encourages, observe, ask yourself 'Do these thoughts serve me?', 'Are they of value?'. As Caroline Heldman mentions in her talk, self esteem is not a finite resource, we do not need to compete for it and we certainly don't need to feel as if you will never have it.
I know in my own experience that the more I enjoy using my body in activities, the less I worry about what it looks like, or if someone else looks better etc etc. The body given to us is ours forever, ENJOY it, rather than berate it.
There are a lot of fun things in life your body can be used for, not to mention your thoughts! If one is constantly consumed by and feels all their worth, all their value is based on how they look then the measurement system is very skewed. If you feel you are less worthy or less valuable because of you look, then again the measurement system you are using is skewed.
Value of oneself must take into account the whole picture, an individual is more than just an image.
Stripped of an image, stripped of your position on your career ladder, stripped of material possessions and even relationships, ask yourself what is there left to value? When you value this, then you will experience much greater peace and contentment.