What is Body Image?
Body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind. It encompasses:
- What you believe about your own appearance (including your memories, assumptions, and generalizations).
- How you feel about your body, including your height, shape, and weight.
- How you sense and control your body as you move. How you feel in your body, not just about your body.
Negative Body Image
- 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
- 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 an unreasonable amount of time worrying about food, weight, and calories.
- You feel comfortable and confident in your body.
(Taken from NEDA: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/what-body-image)
Top 3 Tips to Improve Body Image
1. Focus on Body Neutrality First
It’s impossible to go from hating a body to loving a body right away. Practice the thought of body neutrality, meaning that you can see your body for what it is (a body!!).
2. Respect Your Body
Appreciate what your body can do for you: walk, stand, sit, stretch! Treat your body with respect by giving it fuel, movement, sleep, and relaxation time.
3. Practice Body Self-Care
Wear clothes that fit you well and make you feel comfortable. Do something everyday that makes you feel good.
Favorite body image resources:
- NEDA’s 10 Steps to a Positive Body Image
- The book “Body Respect” by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, available on Amazon
- The Body Image Workbook by Thomas Cash, available on Amazon
- CSAB Body Image webinar by Marissa Sappho (#13 for the recording)
- Rebecca Scritchfield’s Body Kindness Podcast
Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY. She is on a mission to help people heal from diets, and find peace and balance with their food choices. She leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel Fabulous about Food!”