The links between body image, self-esteem and mental health

Yesterday I learned about 'Furry Fandom'. Furries are people who take an interest in animal characters with the characteristics of a human. A furrie takes on the character (a 'fursona'), and interacts with other fursonas in the community. In the furry fandom community, many people feel that the body they were born with does not fit their identity, which explains why they choose to cover it with an outfit that better represents themselves – helping to improve their body image, self-esteem and mental health.

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Distinctive characteristics unique to you form your identity and identify you as yourself and no one else. A society that includes appearance in identity may help explain the links between identity self-image and self-esteem.

The links between identity self-image and self-esteem

As mentioned above, the unique traits that make you you form your identity. Your self-image is how you view yourself and how you believe others see you. Your self-esteem is how you feel about yourself. When considered together in this way, the links between identity self-image and self-esteem become apparent.

In recent years, identity has become a far broader word. Many people now connect their body shape, size, style, etc, to their identity. If you have a negative body image, you are more likely to have low self-esteem. When you feel that your body does not fit your identity, you are likely to have a negative body image resulting in low self-esteem. Alternately, low self-esteem can cause poor body image.

"My appearance makes me depressed."

Whether you dislike your appearance because of a specific body part or you feel that your body does not fit your identity, when you look in the mirror and wish for the ability to change your appearance, you might feel depressed. 

Although you feel that your appearance causes the depression, there is the possibility that depression causes a negative body image. Due to the emphasis our society puts on appearance, many people obsess about it, comparing themselves to others and running a constant negative self-talk dialogue in their minds.

Because of the connection between feelings and self-perception, the body image you hold of yourself may not show a true representation of how you appear.

Depression tends to cause people to perceive themselves as less attractive, physically, whilst retaining a realistic view of others. This creates a distorted comparison between yourself and others.

Seeking support for depression will help you learn how to love yourself and increase your self-esteem. If you feel the problem lies between how you feel and what your body represents, some time with a therapist will help you chop the brambles along the path, so you have a clearer route. 

Is low self-esteem a mental illness?

Low self-esteem is not a mental illness, but it isn’t very nice to experience. Low self-esteem, body image and mental health do crossover. If your self-esteem is constantly low, it might feel challenging to find the motivation to get out and do things that should bring you joy.

Some people feel that the negative self-talk that comes with low self-esteem is separate from who they are - like another person berating them all the time. This affects choices and your life plan, not because you are not good enough but because you fear that you are not good enough. This can cause mental health disorders or exaggerate mental health disorders.

It is important to seek support if any of this resonates with you. It is not always necessary to ascertain whether the self-esteem, negative body image or mental health difficulty came first because they are so intertwined. Your hypnotherapist will meet you where you are to try and work through the things that you find difficult in life right now. The problems around the edges will dissipate as the biggest issues resolve, at this point the smaller issues will surface and you can deal with them too. 

Hypnotherapy Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Farnham GU9 & GU10
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Written by Juliet Hollingsworth, MSc
Farnham GU9 & GU10

Juliet is a trauma-informed therapist. Her passion is helping people reach their potential through a combination of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology. Juliet works online and face to face with clients across the world. (DHP Clinical Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy. MSc Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal psychology.)

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