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Body Image


Essentially body image is how you see yourself. This includes how you see yourself when you look in the mirror, how you picture yourself in your mind, how you feel about your body and in your body.

Negative Body Image is…

  • 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 is…

  • 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 unreasonable amount of time worrying about food, weight, and calories
  • You feel comfortable and confident in your body

10 Steps to Positive Body Image

  1. Appreciate all that your body can do
  2. Keep a top-10 list of things you like about yourself
  3. Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not only skin-deep
  4. Look at yourself as a whole person
  5. Surround yourself with positive people
  6. Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person
  7. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body
  8. Become a critical viewer of social and media messages
  9. Do something nice for yourself
  10. Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others

Eating disorders are disorders characterized by extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding food and weight. Eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and muscle dysmorphia. Eating disorders can have serious life-threatening consequences but recovery is possible.

The Media’s Message

  • The average US resident is exposed to approximately 5,000 advertising messages a day (Alfreiter, Elzinga & Gordon, 2003).
  • According to a recent survey of adolescent girls, their main source of information about women’s health issues comes from the media (Commonwealth Fund, 1997).
  • The average young adolescent watches 3-4 hours of TV per day (Levine, 1997).

The average female model is 5 feet and 11 inches and only 117 pounds and the average American woman is 5’4”, 140 pounds and a size 14. The media regularly portrays individuals with bodies that are not the norm, sending messages to Americans that this is what their bodies should look like. The media often defines in our culture what is beautiful or good and this can have drastic negative effects on our development of self-esteem and body image.