Mental Health VS Body Image – Is it worth it?

Womens Body Image in this Day and Age

Women in this day and age struggle a lot with body image: we are convinced that models depicted on media are ‘perfect’ and that that is what we should strive to be like. Many girls strive to have the physical appearance of a model just so they can feel beautiful, confident, or even just comfortable. As a result of this immense want to have the ‘ideal body’, many girls undergo diets, harsh workout routines, have weight loss surgery, etc, and sometimes it backfires and they end up with anorexia, anxiety, depression, and other health and mental health issues, even if they do, in fact, end up achieving their ‘body goals’. Although some might argue that this is a ‘typical issue for teenagers’ or that ‘it’s just a phase’, that is most certainly false as this is an issue that women of all age are faced with, and is far more pressing that imaginable. Some girls start worrying about their body image before the age of 10 and often times never reach a point of satisfaction with their body. 


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This article published by buzzfeed provides a few examples of how media affects the way women view themselves and very well highlights the underlying issues of the media industry and how that impacts women’s thoughts and views. This article also briefly touches on the ultimate solution to the issue- love yourself, however, evidently that is easier said than done.


How Far would you go?

I interviewed two of my classmates (ages 14 and 15) to get a general idea on what girls would do to achieve the perfect body. I asked them “What would you give up to have the perfect body?(eg. Undergo extreme diets, have harsh workout routines, surgery etc)” with the followup question, “Do you think it is worth it?”

Girl 1:
responded that she would undergo harsh diet and workout routines. She thinks the diet and workouts would be worth it, but it depends on the diet(not if it makes you unhealthy eg. if the diet was that you could only eat one walnut a day)

Girl 2:
responded that she would workout everyday, give up sweets, eat healthy, go for daily morning runs, possibly liposuction(a form of cosmetic surgery), go on trips to hike, not eat for extended periods of time, go to intense boot camps, give up money to a certain extent. Furthermore, to a certain extent it is worth it because it improves self confidence but if someone is already very comfortable with their body type then that isn’t necessary. It depends on the person and how much they are willing to do, for me it also depends what you are doing everyday(eg where you live, what your job is etc)


Finding a Solution:

This matrix that depicts the different strategies of achieving a perfect body, it’s affect on mental health and body image/confidence and how “worth it” it is to sacrifice different things for a ‘good body’. Hopefully this inspires some girls to see that everyone is beautiful just the way they are and that happiness shouldn’t be given up to achieve the ‘body goals’ that society has drilled into our minds.


A: moderated exercise

B: harsh workouts

C: moderated diets

D: strict diets

E: extreme diets / prolonged starving

F: surgery (weight loss/cosmetic)

Player A (the girl’s body image / self confidence) Player B (the girl’s mental health / happiness)
A (5,2) (7,-2) (6,0) (6,-3) (4,-11) (12,-5)
B (7,-2) (7,-2) (7,-3) (7,-6) (7,-10) (8,-6)
C (6,0) (7,-3) (3,0) (4,-5) (4,-11) (11,-5)
D (6,-3) (7,-6) (4,-5) (4,-5) (4,-12) (6,-10)
E (4,-11) (7,-10) (4,-11) (4,-12) (4,-10) (10,-12)
F (12,-5) (8,-6) (12,-5) (6,-10) (10,-12) (10,-7)

*payoffs: (x,y) x to body image/self confidence, y to mental health/happiness



Nash Equilibrium solution

Pareto Optimal solution:


Nash Equilibrium: (12,-5)

Pareto Optimal: any point on the line -x+7 between (12,-5) and (5,2)

Since the solution is (12,-5), that means a combination of A&F or C&F, which means that moderated exercise and surgery, moderated diets and surgery, however that doesn’t seem right since a negative payoff in mental health is not a good sign. (5,2) seems like a much better solution since moderated exercise not only keeps you healthy but you also feel good afterwards, both improving physical and mental health. All the other solutions might have a larger payoff for body image, but have a greater negative payoff for mental health, therefore it is not a good solution.  

As mentioned, the solution is easier said than done. Stay healthy and exercise, but don’t overdo it; eat healthy but don’t limit the foods that bring you joy and satisfaction, educate yourself and educate others, encourage yourself/others to pursue happiness rather than unrealistic body goals,  love yourself and spread the love. Something as simple as “hey, you look beautiful today.” can boost someone’s self esteem more than losing one pound, spread the word, spread your happiness, spread your love. #youarebeautiful #everyBODYdeservesLOVE #onelove

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  1. May 01, 2018 by Sophia.Lawder-Gill

    Really powerful video and I really like the hashtag #everyBODYdeservesLOVE . I also think that the two personal narratives (interviews with your peers) provided an insight that can help the viewer gain empathy.

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