Body image perception is the way that a person views how his or her body looks. A person’s perception of his or her image strongly affects how he or she acts on a given day. If a person lacks confidence in body image, then he or she is less likely to walk with pride or to wear attractive clothes. Body image perception has a strong impact on an individual’s personal life and stems from many factors, including television and one's social network.
The media is a chief factor that affects body image perception. When someone looks in a magazine, he or she often sees images of thin, beautiful women and tall, attractive men. Many of these images — especially those of women — are impossible to achieve in real life because they really are computer-generated graphics. Companies often use thin, young women to sell their products or services because these women easily capture the eyes of television viewers and magazine readers. For-profit businesses that emphasize that their products help people to achieve a certain look use attractive models to keep their customers purchasing the products.
Another factor that affects a person’s view of his or her body is comments from family members. Some immediate family members, such as a brother or sister, may tease a sibling about how fat he or she is or how awkwardly tall he or she is, which can decrease the individual's level of self-confidence. A parent especially affects a child’s view of himself or herself either negatively through critical comments or positively through uplifting words of encouragement. Individuals typically hold their family’s views of them in high regard, so family members’ comments play a major role in how one may feel about his or her body.
Peer groups additionally affect how a person thinks that he or she looks. Kids often tease people their age who do not look like them, which includes people of a different race and ethnicity. This type of teasing and bullying typically stems from the children’s own lack of self-confidence. A child’s natural inclination to want to belong to his or her social group actually can make him or her feel like an outcast when criticized.
Sudden changes in a person’s body during puberty also play a role in an individual’s body image perception. During puberty, both boys and girls bodies begin to change in a number of ways. This sometimes causes embarrassment as they struggle to deal with the unfamiliar changes. Other girls and boys struggle with their body image perception because they feel they have not matured quickly enough.