Updated: Feb 19, 2019
Last month on Channel 4’s ‘Countdown’, a guest, psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, shared a story of a study conducted about body image which I thought perfectly highlighted the psychological impact of the issue.
The study consisted of participants being told that they would be given a facial scar by a make-up artist, after which they would be asked to go into a city centre and attempt to hand out leaflets to members of the public. They would then have to repeat the same task, after the make-up artist had removed said scar. During the entirety of the study, they had no access to a mirror and after each attempt at leafletting, they were asked to feedback about their experience.
Each participant told similar stories of it being difficult to hand out leaflets with the scar, many of them only managing to hand out less than half. The participants therefore concluded that the public avoided them more and saw them as less approachable when they had a visible difference. However, without the scar, most participants managed to hand out all of their leaflets and found that they had a more positive experience with the public and their attitudes towards them. It wasn’t until after the experiment had finished that the researchers revealed that, at no point in the study did the makeup artist actually create a scar on anybody’s face.
The researchers determined that the difference in public reception was down to the psychological impacts that the thought of a facial scar had on the participants, which in turn caused their body language to be negatively impacted. They appeared less confident, hunched over and had an aura of sadness about them when they thought they had a scar. In thinking that they had something that would be publicly perceived as unappealing, they altered how they conducted themselves and that, in turn was the thing that rendered them less approachable. So, in turn, when they thought they were without the scar, they had more confidence and approached the task with more exuberance and gusto which was reflected through their more positive body language.
This study highlights the fact that body image is less about what you physically look like but instead, has more to do with how you carry yourself, your body language and how you convey your sense of self-worth. You are more attractive and inviting to others when you seem positive, confident and happy in your own skin, regardless of your appearance.
The people we meet in life can tell an awful lot about us, purely from how we feel about and how we treat ourselves. Body image is very much a psychological construct and the key to feeling more satisfied with how we look, is addressing our mentality and how we feel about ourselves. If you feel confident, you will look confident. If you feel positive, you will look positive. If you feel amazing, you will look amazing.
At the end of the day, your vibe attracts your tribe. So, we should all take the time to think less about the physicality of how you look and more about the mentality of loving ourselves regardless.
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