Appearance-based rejection

By Ann Griswold • Published: May 23rd, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

For some of us, skinny jeans should come with a warning: May cause intense happiness or distress, depending on the day. Changes in body image can trigger emotional roller-coasters, sending our self-confidence soaring one week and plummeting the next.

It’s easy to dwell on personal flaws and lament the notion that we’re too short, too tall, too skinny or too fat. But don’t let your shortcomings consume you: A recent study finds that discontent with personal appearance, to the point where we anxiously anticipate rejection by others, can negatively affect both mental and physical health.

People who are sensitive to appearance-based rejection constantly compare themselves to others, have low self-esteem and experience a great deal of insecurity in their relationships. They worry that society will shun them because of their looks and often develop eating disorders or exercise compulsively in a never-ending attempt to “measure up.” Eating disorders can trigger a number of serious physical health problems, such as anemia, heart disease, diabetes and peptic ulcers.

Psychologists point out that not everyone with a complaint about their body will develop an emotional problem or eating disorder. But if you have an unhealthy preoccupation with your appearance that makes you feel sad, lonely or unwanted, you may be at risk.

Results of the study suggest that a negative body image can be improved by concentrating on personal strengths, instead of weaknesses, and by thinking about close relationships with others. Go ahead and give it a try!