How to turn around a negative body image

Women, especially, feel insecure about their bodies

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Body image can be a significant problem for women. 80 percent of women say that the images of women on television, in movies, fashion magazines and advertising makes them feel insecure.

The facts about how women are built tell a different story than many women might suspect. The average woman in America is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds while the average American model is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 117 pounds. Most fashion models are thinner than 98 percent of American women. 

Lori Osachy, owner of The Body Image Counseling Center said that negative body image can start early in life.

"As parents it's very difficult to combat the unrealistic images of perfection that are portrayed in the media," Osachy said.

Kids who experience bullying are acutely susceptible to body image issues.

"Those kids are more likely to develop eating disorders," Osachy said. "The more you look like that ideal, the more you want to achieve it. Kids want to be alike and they want to have the attention off of them at this age."

Parents can have the biggest influence on the body image for their children and often, parents can benefit form starting with how they view their own bodies.

"Give consistent messages at home," Osachy said. "Start by looking at your own body image and eating behavior. Point out to your kids unrealistic body images in the media. Point out that many of the models have been airbrushed  on the computer.

To help parents, the Body Image Counseling Center launched a new mental health initiative, the "Text2bWell Positive Body Image Program," an 8-week text messaging series of proven techniques and action steps to help individuals transform the way they feel about their bodies, food and exercise. During National Eating Disorders Awareness week (Feb. 26 through March 1), the program is free. To register, go to www.text2bwell.com, text the word behealthy to 44222, which will send a signup link to your smartphone.