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Body Image: Home

This guide will help you better understand body image issues in men, women, and children. It provides suggested resources and other information for beginning research on this topic.

What is Body Image?

Body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind. It encompasses:

  • 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. 

Negative Body Image

  • A distorted perception of your shape--you perceive parts of your body unlike they really are.
  • You are convinced that only other people are attractive and that your body size or shape is a sign of personal failure.
  • You feel ashamed, self-conscious, and anxious about your body.
  • You feel uncomfortable and awkward in your body.

Positive Body Image

  • A clear, true perception of your shape--you see the various parts of your body as they really are.
  • You celebrate and appreciate your natural body shape and you understand that a person’s physical appearance says very little about their character and value as a person.
  • You feel proud and accepting of your unique body and refuse to spend an unreasonable amount of time worrying about food, weight, and calories.
  • You feel comfortable and confident in your body.

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

Impact of Body Image

Negative Effects of a Poor Body Image
A poor body image has been related to:

  • the onset of depression
  • eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia
  • poor development of interpersonal skills
  • negative self-esteem/self-worth
  • unhealthy exercise regimes
  • substance abuse
  • unhealthy diet

Flinders University

Encouraging a Positive Body Image

It is important for parents and teachers to recognize the importance of developing a positive body image in children by:

  • setting a good, healthy example
  • accepting all differences, whether physical, cultural, religious or gender
  • encouraging healthy eating and participation in exercise
  • being aware of children who may develop negative body image and providing support

Flinders University