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 is a combination of the thoughts, feelings, attitude, expectations and perception you have of and toward your body. Body Image changes on a constant basis and for most people it fluctuates between positive and negative perceptions of their body.

When Does It Become a Problem?

For people with a poor body image, their thoughts and feelings about their body are constantly negative. People who experience difficulties with their body image may have a distorted perception of their shape, believe that only other people are attractive and that their body size or shape is a sign of personal failure, feel self-conscious and anxious about their body, and may feel uncomfortable and awkward in their body.

It can be a problem if:

  • you avoid social events because of how you feel about your body
  • you often feel anxious, distressed or dissatisfied with your body
  • you constantly compare yourself to other people and then feel worse about yourself
  • you constantly ‘check’ or evaluate your body, for example in mirrors
  • you spend a significant proportion of your money on things designed to change your appearance such as beauty treatments or cosmetic surgery. These do not always make you feel better though
  • you spend a long time fixing your hair, make-up or changing your clothes before doing simple things like going to the supermarket

People with negative body image have a greater likelihood of developing other mental health disorders including eating disorders, and are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and experience obsessions with weight loss.


What is Positive Body Image?

People who accept the way they look and feel good about their bodies most of the time have a positive body image. Part of having a positive body image is thinking about the way you physically feel and what your body can do — not just the way you look. For example, people who can easily climb stairs or run three miles may have a better body image than people who struggle climbing them. Having a positive body image also means that you see yourself as you really are. Many people with a positive body image know that certain parts of their body may not be ‘perfect’ or be the same as someone else’s, but they accept and appreciate the differences. Importantly, people with a positive body image also understand that how they look does not determine their self-worth.


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    Talbot House, 8-9 Talbot Court,
    London, EC3V 0BP

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