Body image is how you see yourself and how you think others see you. Good body image is key to mental and physical well-being and it is defined by self-esteem, past experiences, messages from society, cultural pressures, relationships and mood.
For most girls, body image has more to do with being accepted by their peers than actually eating healthily and exercising. Sixty percent of girls were dissatisfied with their bodies, and 66% expressed the desire to lose weight. This isn’t surprising when we realize that our society is bombarded with images of excessively thin women.
Although it may be hard, you can improve your body image.
- Be good to yourself. Weight-related goals should focus on your health. Practice good health habits that will nourish and strengthen you.
- See yourself as a whole person instead of an individual body part.
- Don’t bad mouth yourself. Be positive and find good in yourself. Feeling badly about your body is probably as much a habit as it is a reaction to society’s rigid standards. Habits can be changed even if society can’t.
- Don’t equate thinness or being muscular with happiness.
- Remember there is no “ideal” body. Beautiful bodies come in all sizes and shapes.
- Be realistic about what you can change and learn to be happy with what you can’t.
- Expand your definition of beauty. Develop your inner self and be defined by it.
- Don’t criticize or comment on others’ appearances.
- Compliment people for other things besides their physical appearance.
- When you meet others, focus on something besides your appearance. Strive to be interesting, nurturing, witty, a good listener, etc.
- Break the habit of comparing yourself to others in terms of appearance.
- Be in supportive relationships. Be around those who accept themselves.
- Deal with the real issues. Being overweight or underweight are often signs/symptoms of a much deeper problem. If you think you need help with these issues, get it.
Once you start loving and respecting your body, you’ll be amazed at the amount of time and energy you’ll have for more positive, and worthwhile endeavors.
National Organization for Women