Brenna Williams, B.A.
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
When you look in the mirror, what do you think about your body? How do you picture yourself in your mind? Do you feel comfortable with your body shape, or do you feel self-conscious about the way your body looks? Do you think you have a realistic perception of your body, or is the way you see your body distorted? The way you answer these questions represents your body image.
Body image is formally defined as how we feel about our own bodies and our physical appearance. People with a positive body image have realistic perceptions about their bodies. They also accept their bodies or feel comfortable in their own bodies. On the other hand, people with a negative body image have distorted perceptions of their bodies, and they feel shameful, anxious, or self-conscious about their bodies. In other words, people with a negative body image do not see their bodies realistically and they are dissatisfied with their bodies. If you have a negative body image, you’re not alone! Most people have a negative body image, with up to 72% of women and 61% of men report being unsatisfied with their bodies (Fiske et al., 2014). Having a negative body image can impact our mental health. For instance, body dissatisfaction is related to lower self-esteem (Tiggeman, 2005), depression (Keel et al., 2001), and disordered eating (Goldfield et al., 2010).
The good news is that body dissatisfaction and negative body image do not have to be permanent, and we do not have to change our bodies to like them. Furthermore, you don’t have to like or love your body to have a positive body image! Having a positive body image can involve simply accepting our bodies as they are in the present moment and not letting how we feel about our bodies get in the way of doing the things we enjoy. We can learn to accept and appreciate our bodies as they are right now. Loving or liking our bodies is not necessary. By changing our behaviors and our perspectives we can promote a positive body image in both ourselves and society.
Promoting a Positive Body Image in OURSELVES:
Promoting a Positive Body Image in SOCIETY:
Positive Body Image Resources
Please share your own ideas of how to promote a positive body image in both ourselves and society in the comments. We would love to hear your suggestions!