Body image is such a loaded, complicated subject—especially for women. How we view our bodies is tied up inextricably with how we were raised, how our culture and community view women’s bodies, control issues and of course, self-esteem. Research shows that between 70 and 90 percent of women dislike their bodies. (In my own experience talking to women over the last 20 years, I am inclined to believe that it is closer to 90 percent.)
On top of that, few of us realize how damaging a critical body image can be. If you are unhappy with your body or appearance, it can lead to eating disorders, excessive weight loss or gain, and it can impact how you feel emotionally, psychologically and even spiritually, leading to feelings of depression, hopelessness and anxiety.
Spurred by cultural pressure and unattainable images of perfection in the media, most of us are either unappreciative, critical or downright unrealistic about our bodies. This quiz has been designed to help you assess whether you have a harshly critical view of your body; a loving, accepting image; or if you walk the line in between.
1. You’ve walked out of the shower and realize that you didn’t grab a towel in advance. Your partner is in the next room. Do you…
A. Quickly figure out a way to dry yourself without asking him for a towel, because you don’t want him to see you fully naked.
B. Hide behind the shower curtain or do your best to cover up your “less attractive areas,” and ask him to please bring a towel to you.
C. Call out to him to please bring you a towel and wait patiently in all of your naked glory for him to come into the room.
2. You run into a friend you haven’t seen in a while, and she says, “You look great!” Do you…
A. Feel uncomfortable and say something like, “Oh no, I look terrible,” or “You need new glasses!”
B. Thank her for the compliment, but then say you think you look tired, your outfit is old, or that it’s only because you’re wearing Spanx.
C. Appreciate her for being so complimentary, take it in as positive feedback and move forward with your day knowing you’re looking good.
3. When you walk up to a full length mirror, do you…
A. Immediately notice all of your faults and begin to pick yourself apart.
B. Acknowledge both the good and the bad that you see in front of you.
C. Immediately notice something positive or good about yourself.
4. You’ve been invited to a dressy event such as a wedding or banquet, and you need to buy a new dress. Do you…
A. Think you are fat and dread going shopping because everything will look awful.
B. Have some concerns that, due to your imperfections, shopping will be challenging, but expect you will find something.
C. Know that you will find something flattering that will make you happy.
5. It’s time for your annual doctor’s visit and the nurse has asked you to get on the scale. Do you…
A. Panic, look away and tell her not to tell you what your weight is.
B. Get on reluctantly, and hope for the best.
C. Get on the scale knowing that whatever the number on the scale is what it is, and it doesn’t change how you feel about yourself.
6. Someone you were dating casually has stopped calling. Do you…
A. Immediately think it’s because something is wrong with the way you look.
B. Wonder if it is because of your appearance and also think of the other reasons it could be.
C. Assume that it has nothing to do with how you look.
7. How often are you in a bad mood or depressed about your appearance?
A. Daily or most of the week.
B. Whenever appearance-related things are brought to your attention.
C. Rarely. You feel pretty good about your appearance overall.
8. A friend has joined a gym and asks you if you want to join with her and go together. Do you…
A. Think: “Wow, she must think I am out of shape.”
B. Wonder if she has been judging your body, but appreciate the concern.
C. Be glad she is trying to be healthier and exercise, and appreciate that she is interested in spending time with you.
9. When you are thinking about your body and your appearance, do you…
A .Find yourself being critical, judgmental and downright mean.
B. Spend some time picking yourself apart while trying to find the positives as well.
C. Know that you aren’t perfect, but try to think of the things you actually do like and appreciate about yourself.
If most of your answers are “A”:
You are way too hard on yourself when it comes to your weight and overall appearance. Being this critical can lead to depression, anxiety and even an eating disorder. It is important that you work on how you see yourself so you can find the positive in who you are and how you look. If you feel truly stuck in this negative cycle, seek counseling or other professional guidance.
If most of your answers are “B”:
You walk the line between being hard on yourself and emotionally well-adjusted when it comes to your body image. If you have more A’s and B’s and not enough C’s, you are in danger of becoming too self-critical and hurting your self-esteem. Pat yourself on the back for the areas where you are accepting of yourself, and note that you need to focus a bit more on the positive so that you can have a more kind and loving view of your physical self.
If most of your answers are “C”:
Congratulations! You are comfortable and accepting of your physical self. This will benefit your confidence and wellbeing on a larger scale. Take a moment to read through the answers where you may have chosen “B” or “A” so that you can work on being more positive in those specific areas.
The goal of this quiz is to cause you to think about how you might be sabotaging your self-esteem by being overly critical of your body and appearance. If you came up with a lot of A’s, I encourage you to work on your self-image and retake this test again in a week and then again in a month to see if the view of yourself has improved. No one is perfect and few people like all parts of their physical selves.
When working toward being emotionally healthy and having a positive sense of self, it is imperative that we be as kind and accepting as possible. After all, you are with yourself 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. If you are constantly criticizing yourself and obsessing over flaws, it’s almost a form of self-abuse. Be as kind and loving to your body as possible. Try to be grateful and appreciative of all the things your body does for you!