Women and Body Image
As women, we all want to look and feel our best.
This is not always easy, considering the busy life today's woman leads and the
many responsibilities she may have. It can be tough to find time for exercising
and eating right, not to mention controlling stress! Sometimes women can feel
pressured to look and feel a certain way. We live in a culture that
puts much emphasis on physical appearance. Developing and nurturing a positive
body image and a healthy mental attitude is crucial to our happiness and
wellness, as we move through the different stages of our lives.
Body image and our health and well being
Our health, which we sometimes can and cannot
control, affects not just how we feel but how we look. Our body image - how we
feel about how we look - can change when we have a health condition or illness.
Pregnancy and menopause, natural life events women experience, can also affect
body image. Learning about how our health affects our body image is an important
first step in developing a positive body image.
The following resources focus on some of the top health concerns that can
affect a woman's body image. Information and resources are provided for each
Every year, Americans spend billions of dollars
on products, from vitamins to face creams, to stop aging. We worry about many
things such as losing our memory, teeth, eyesight, hearing, sex drive, and
ability to get around. Women can have special concerns about osteoporosis
(thinning bones) and menopause. As we age, staying active and involved helps
us to have a positive outlook on life. A healthy diet and regular exercise can
ease common conditions like arthritis and can help prevent or control
disease and high blood pressure.
In a society that places much value on youth, a
woman's body image can be affected by aging in many ways. Physical changes such
as weight gain, hair loss, and wrinkles can affect a woman's self-esteem.
Menopause can be a stressful time for women due to hormonal changes.
Osteoporosis can lead to broken bones and fractures, affecting a woman's
independence. Women can often have two stressful roles - as caregiver and
caretaker - raising children and taking care of elderly parents. Women can also
feel lonely and less useful as they age, leading to depression. But aging is not
all gloom and doom. It can offer women new opportunities in life and a new
outlook. It is important to keep a positive attitude about aging.
Alopecia and Hair Loss
Bad hair days. We have all had them and know how
they can ruin our day. Hair is something we notice right away about a person.
When a woman has hair thinning or falling out, it can have a big impact on how
she feels about herself. The most common type of hair loss in women is female
pattern alopecia or baldness. It affects women mostly after menopause,
although it can start as early as the pre-teenage years. Causes can include
physical stress such as surgery and illness, emotional stress, thyroid problems,
certain medications, and hormonal changes. Hair most often returns to normal
once the causes are resolved. Another hair loss condition, which is also
temporary in most cases, is alopecia areata. While researchers do not
know what causes this condition, they think it may be an autoimmune disease. Hair loss, which is also
temporary, is very common in women undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer.
People who have hair loss are usually in good
health. But emotionally, this condition can be hard to handle and can change a
woman's body image. There are treatments available for hair loss, along with a
wide range of wigs, hairpieces, and techniques for styling hair. It is important
to first talk with your health care provider if you have concerns about hair
loss. Be aware that there are products on the market that make lots of promises
but have never been tested for safety or effectiveness.