Why Do People Experience Body Shame?
First and foremost, we’d like to explain the difference between the feelings of guilt and shame with regard to body image. A person experiences guilt when he realizes his behavior was bad and needs to be changed. Shame concerns a whole person and makes him feel he doesn’t comply with certain requirements of the environment. Apart from this, body shame is considered to be a more complicated problem compared to a negative body image.
The origins of shame are usually of an external character. For example, body shame may be caused by sexual or physical trauma in the childhood. In the other case the shame may be provoked by a serious disease that changes the way the body looks or performs its functions. Communication with the social environment may also be a source of body shame. Messages from the Internet, TV series and magazines may distort a notion of a healthy body making people who compare their bodies with those on the pictures increasingly ashamed of the own body. Finally, a person’s genetics that determines the shapes of the body is another factor that causes body shame.
Are There Any Negative Consequences of Experiencing Body Shame?
When a person is ashamed of his body, it always results in a set of negative consequences. The main problem is that such person is extremely unwilling to meet other people and avoids communication with them. An individual constantly hides, mostly at home, since he doesn’t want other people to see him. In such a way he deprives himself of feeling a constant emotion of shame. Staying alone, the person may start drinking too much alcohol or eating enlarged portions of food that leads to weight gain. The forced isolation negatively influences the person’s ability to solve life challenges, determine long-term goals and taking important decisions to achieve these goals.
Is It Possible to Overcome Body Shame?
Modern therapy offers a lot of treatment opportunities for patients who are ashamed of their body. The main task here is to reconnect the patient to his body again.
The most effective treatment modalities are yoga, movement therapy, nurturing the body and keeping a diary. Apart from that, a patient learns how to identify and appreciate emotions that are related to his body. The patient also learns to regard his feelings from a neutral position and not divide them on the categories like good or bad.
Yoga occupies a separate place in a system of treatment modalities. Yoga practices, especially breathing exercises are very valuable since they help listen to the needs of the body and satisfy them.
In some cases dancing may be even more effective than yoga. Dance makes a patient feel his own body as well as the body of his partner and bring the movements in line with the demands specific for each particular dance.