Body Image

Body image is how we feel about our bodies. It includes the way we think we look when we see ourselves in the mirror, how we feel about the way we look, and how we think others see us. Society, the media, family and peers' attitudes affect our body image. It is important because how we think about ourselves is related to our physical and mental health, and overall well-being.

 Things that can affect your body image:
  • Puberty - many people struggle with their self-esteem and body image when they begin puberty because it's a time when the body goes through many changes. These changes, combined with wanting to feel accepted, means it can be tempting to compare ourselves with others. The trouble with that is not everyone grows or develops at the same time or in the same way. Everyone is different, and being different is normal!
  • Media and Other Outside Influences - Adolescence is a time when teens and young adults become more aware of celebrities and media images as well as how other young people look and fit in. This is a time when we start to compare ourselves with other people or media images.
  • Families and School - Family life can sometimes influence our body image. Some parents or coaches might be too focused on looking a certain way or changing our weight for sports teams. Family members might struggle with their own body image which can influence a person's self-esteem, especially if they are sensitive to other peoples' comments. People can also experience hurtful comments about the way they look from classmates and peers which can also affect body image and self-esteem.
  • Healthy Self-Esteem - If you have a positive body image, you probably like and accept yourself the way you are. This healthy attitude allows you to develop good friendships, become more independent and challenge yourself physically and mentally; all of which can boost your self-esteem. A positive, optimistic attitude can help people develop strong self-esteem. Knowing what makes you happy and how to meet your goals can help you feel capable, strong, and in control of your life. A positive attitude and a healthy lifestyle are a great combination for building good self-esteem.
 If you have a healthy body image you: 
  • Accept the way you look without trying to change your body to fit what you think you should look like.
  • Value what you look like, by seeing the qualities and strengths that make you feel good about yourself beyond weight, shape or looks.
  • Resist the pressure to have the "perfect" body that you see in the media, online, and in society.
  • Do not spend a lot of time worrying about food, weight, or calories.
  • Do not judge others on their body weight, shape, and/or eating or exercise habits.
  • Understand that a person's physical appearance is not a sign of their character or values.
  • Feel comfortable and confident in your body.
 If you have a negative body image you:
  • Believe that what you look like determines who you are as a person.
  • Have constant negative thoughts about your body and constantly compare yourself to others.
  • Have an inaccurate idea about your body, in that you see parts of your body unlike they really are.
  • Are obsessed with trying to change your actual body shape/size to measure up to family, social, or media ideals.
  • Are convinced that only other people are attractive and that your body's shape/size is a sign of personal failure.
  • Feel ashamed, self-conscious, and anxious about your body.
  • Feel uncomfortable and awkward in your body.
 How can I improve my body image?

Let's take a look at some tips for improving your body image: 

  • If you are feeling down about yourself, talk to someone you trust like a friend, family member or healthcare professional.
  • List your strengths, talents and other qualities that you love about yourself.
  • Surround yourself and spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself and who support you.
  • Find a balance in achieving health and in life too! Focus on healthy eating, being active, and feeling good about yourself.
  • Choose a physical activity you enjoy. You are more likely to do it often if you like it. Do it for the joy of it, not to lose weight.
  • Wear clothes that express your personal style and that are comfortable to you.
  • Carry yourself with confidence and pride in knowing who you are.
  • Do something positive every day.
  • Find beauty in yourself and in others.

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