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.
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
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