Fixating on appearance? Why Does It Happen, and How to Limit It?

Why do we look in the mirror and examine ourselves? Are we assessing what has changed since the last hour, or are reminding ourselves of what needs to be changed? This is known as body checking. ”Body checking is the habit of seeking information about your body’s weight, shape, size, or appearance. Like many behaviors, body checking exists on a continuum. It can range from completely avoiding looking at your body, to casual checking as part of your preparations for the day, to compulsive and anxious check-and-check-again behavior loops(Healthline, 2023).” So, can we stop body-checking on our own? Well, everything takes time, and it often depends on the severity, but according to physicians, here are a few ways to start.

Understand body checking

“Body checking is a behavior that involves seeking information about your body's size, shape, appearance, or weight. It might happen while you are sitting on a chair, taking a shower, or viewing your reflection in a mirror” (Verywellmind, 2020). However, it’s important to understand if the body checking is excessive. Psychodermatologist, Dr. Ahmed states, “For instance, it’s easy for patients to not even realized that they’ve looked in the mirror 100 times.”

If you are body checking, it’s important to take note of when you do it, how often you do it, and how you do it? That will help you to assess the level to which you are body-checking, and likewise, you can gain a better understanding of the things you need to do to address it. 

Determine how much the fixations have impacted you and consider areas you would like to change.

Psychodermatologist, Dr. Ahmed also describes how it’s important to gain an understanding of how much a patient’s restrictive or obsessive behaviors have impacted their life. 

Dr. Alia suggests asking yourself, “Are you often unable to go out with friends because nothing falls in your meal plan? Are you apprehensive about them knowing this?” You can also ask questions such as, “Do you body check so much that you don’t want to go to social events? Do you avoid situations where you feel as though you can’t hide your body the way you want?

Give yourself grace

Unfortunately, confidence has become yet another beauty standard that can be used against people. If you’re having a down or you body-checked in a way that perhaps wasn’t positive, don’t be so hard on yourself. Understand that everyone has down days, and feeling insecure isn’t something to ashamed of because it’s human.

As psychiatrist and dermatologist, Dr. Amy Wechsler says, “Our journeys with skin positivity are all so individualized, and for some people, skin positivity is wonderful, but for others, it makes them feel left out. They may think, “I want to feel good about myself, and I don’t want to feel down because of my skin, but I do feel bad. Then, they feel guilty about feeling bad. We just have to understand that self-image is different for everyone. When it comes to feeling confident, I think we should allow for shades of gray and nuances..”

With that being said, it’s important to give yourself the space and grace to go on your self-esteem journey. It might not be linear, and that’s okay. The most important thing is to remember that you are worthy of the journey, and confidence is for you, too.

Coverphotocred: Verywell fit