What Is Body Image?
- How you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind
- What you believe about your own appearance (including your memories, assumptions, and generalizations)
- How you feel about your body, including your height, shape, and weight
- How you sense and control your body as you move
- How you feel in your body, not just about your body
People with a negative body image have a greater likelihood of developing an eating disorder and are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and obsessions with weight loss.
We all may have our days when we feel awkward or uncomfortable in our bodies, but the key to developing positive body image is to recognize and respect our natural shape and learn to overpower those negative thoughts and feelings with positive, affirming, and accepting ones.
Ten Steps to Positive Body Image
One list cannot automatically tell you how to turn negative body thoughts into positive body image, but it can help you think about new ways of looking more healthfully and happily at yourself and your body. The more you do that, the more likely you are to feel good about who you are and the body you naturally have.
- Appreciate all that your body can do. Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams. Celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you --running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.
- Keep a top-10 list of things you like about yourself -- things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like. Read your list often. Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about you.
- Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin-deep. When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel. Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
- Look at yourself as a whole person. When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts. See yourself as you want others to see you – as a whole person.
- Surround yourself with positive people. It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
- Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person. You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones. The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you.
- Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body. Work with your body, not against it.
- Become a critical viewer of social and media messages. Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body. Protest these messages: write a letter to the advertiser or talk back to the image or message.
- Do something nice for yourself -- something that lets your body know you appreciate it. Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, and find a peaceful place outside to relax.
- Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others. Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world.
* From the National Eating Disorders Association website:
How to Get Help
For more information or assistance, please contact the Drexel University Counseling Center at (215) 895-1415, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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