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What exactly is ‘body image’ and how does it affect us?

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

Body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or is your perception of your body. It’s how you feel about the way your body looks and how you feel in your skin. Body image has an enormous impact on people’s self-esteem and how they think about themselves. A positive body image can lead to increased overall well-being, while a negative body image can lead to lower self-esteem, unhealthy behaviors, psychological distress, and eating disorders.

Body image comes from the messages passed down from our families, how we engage with our friends, and what we consume in the media. The pressures these messages have on us influence how we dress, the way we style our hair, and the way we perceive the ideal body or look.

The fact is, everyone is different. Our bodies are made up of individual genetic makeup that influences our body size, weight, and shape. Our bodies are shaped differently; they hold weight differently and are unique to us. Just think, if everyone ate the same food and followed the same exercise plan for one year, we would all still look different from one another.

Ideal Body Image

If you feel that your weight is not “ideal,” consider what is ideal for you. The perfect weight for one person is not going to be the ideal weight for someone else. When we examine what is “ideal” for us, we should look for a few things. Your ideal weight provides you with enough energy, allows you to be strong and lead a healthy life.

Improving Body Image

Consider everything that your body does in a day. It walks, runs, breathes, dances, laughs, cooks, reads, cleans, and smiles. Your body does amazing things every day, whether it’s the small things we don’t think about or something as powerful as giving birth or hugging a loved one. Appreciate the things your body does for you and marvel at its strength and individuality.

Your body knows what it needs; it wants to feel good and be healthy. If you listen to your body, you will find that it wants to be nourished, stretched, and exercised. It wants to be taken care of as it has taken care of you.

Here are some tips for improving your body image:

  • Treat your body with respect and accept it. Your body is you!

  • Give your body plenty of rest.

  • Fuel your body with a variety of foods that you enjoy. If you eat what you like, you’re more likely to maintain a healthy weight.

  • Listen to your body; eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full.

  • Move your body daily.

  • Identify and replace negative self-talk with self-kindness. Avoid saying things to yourself that you would never say to someone else.

  • Listen to your own intuition, needs, and desires; tune out others’ judgmental voices.

A particular body size will not make you a happier person, but treating your body with respect and taking care of yourself will.

White Pine Center for Healing offers classes in Body Image and Intuitive Eating to help create a positive relationship between mind, body, and food and develop a healthy body image. Click here for more information or contact us at 814-461-5617.

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