Self-image : how do you measure up?
Recently, a study was published related to the penis length in 15000 men. It was felt that providing such information would allow men who suffered severe anxiety about their penis length some ‘reality’ to compare themselves to.
It is a shame that this is needed – however, with the abundance of pornographic images, men have an immediate ‘yardstick’ to compare themselves to, even if it is not representative of ‘normal’ males.
In clinic I see many people (male and female) with self-image issues. Humans are highly social, so it is absolutely natural for us to reference others to work out how we should see ourselves.
The biggest problem with this, however, is who we choose to compare ourselves with, and how we choose to compare.
For example, if we compare how ‘beautiful’ we are compared to an airbrushed model on the front of a magazine, how do we stack up? If we compare penis size or sexual performance versus what we see in pornography, how do we compare? If we think about how popular we are and we compare ourselves to someone famous like Richard Branson how do we measure up?
Is it any wonder that people develop poor self-images and anxiety about themselves?
What is true is that we are the sum of a nearly infinite range of characteristics. If we consider that in the population, there is a ‘normal distribution’ of people in any one characteristic, then it looks like a bell curve – with most people in the middle (around the ‘normal’) and a very small percentage being outliers, either on the low or high side.
As we compare ourselves to others, it is useful to realise two things: the people shown in that glossy magazine or adult video are chosen because they are NOT NORMAL. They are chosen because they exist at an extreme for the characteristic; and that if we only focus on one characteristic, we ignore all of the other ways that we can compare where we might be the same as, or better than, the person we compare to.
For example, someone who feels bad about how they compare on body shape and weight with a supermodel is focusing on a single characteristic of someone who is chosen because they have ‘extreme’ characteristics (body shape, weight, looks). In this instance, if we perceive the super model as ‘normal’, we then rate ourselves (inappropriately) as abnormal on the low side. However, if we recognise that they are chosen because they are not ‘normal’, then perhaps we can reflect that we are.
On the other hand, if we stacked up all of our curves of all of our different characteristics, we may notice that we vary where we sit on these curves across the different factors. Height, weight, intelligence, schooling, number of pets, number of friends, ability to enjoy food, cooking skills, balance, hair thickness, nose length, fingernail polish finish, ability to handle pressure…. Imagine if you really plotted all of your characteristics, instead of just focusing on the one?
What you may learn is that you are infinitely complex, and different from everyone else. You really cannot compare on a single factor to others (it is just unfair!), and in the 7 billion people on the planet, no one will be exactly like you.
So how can you compare? In fact, you are totally unique, and your job is to be the best and most unique version of you that you can be.
So, as you ponder your penis length or body shape I invite you to ask two questions:
“Is what I am comparing to normal or extreme?”; and
“If I focused on characteristics other than this, what might I notice?
If you have anxiety about body image, being judged or social comparisons, please contact me to find out how these can be naturally treated, in a fast and long lasting manner.