What does body image mean?
Body image refers to the thoughts, perceptions, and attitudes you have towards your body. It is how you see and feel about what you see in the mirror. It includes:
- What you believe about your own body, including memories, ideas, and assumptions
- How you feel about your body
- How you experience your body
Positive vs. negative body image, what’s the difference?
A positive body image, also referred to as body positivity or body satisfaction means feeling comfortable and confident in your body. Positive body image is accepting and embracing the natural size and shape of your body. It recognizes that physical appearance does not define who you are as a human. A positive body image recognizes and respects your natural form and overpowers negative thoughts or feelings with positive and empowering ones.
On the other hand, a negative body image( also referred to as body dissatisfaction) is a distorted perception of one’s shape and size. The feelings of shame, anxiety, and self-consciousness consume the way one feels with a negative body image. Negative body image can make one feel isolated and withdrawn while increasing the risk for depression, low self-esteem, and eating disorders.
Why is having a positive body image important?
Having a healthy body image is crucial for one’s mental health, confidence, and eating disorder prevention.
Promoting a positive body image is essential in creating a healthy culture and society that understands:
- Healthy bodies come in all different shapes and sizes
- Physical appearance does not predicate or equate to health, happiness, or success
- People are more than the number on the scale
- Images in the media are often edited and modified
- It is important to celebrate and honor the variety and uniqueness in each other’s talents, skills, and abilities
How can I help others love their bodies, even when I still struggle with my own body image?
It starts with self-love. Body dissatisfaction is often passed on from generations of negative self-talk and body image distortion. By looking at the messages you are sending with your thoughts, attitudes, and comments about your body and other people’s bodies, you can stop the cycle.
Begin by becoming aware of your relationship with your body. Can you begin to change the conversation? Each time the thoughts arise to talk about anyone’s body shape, shift the topic! By changing the topic of discussion and taking away attention from physical appearance, you are working to cultivate a positive body culture.
Where do I even start?
Encouraging a healthy and positive body image starts with you. Get honest with your own attitudes, beliefs, prejudices, and behaviors about food, weight, body image, physical appearance, health, and exercise. Identify your own negative or destructive thoughts and begin by counteracting them with positive words.
The thoughts you allow to enter into your mind impact how you feel about your body. The good news is, you have the power to shift from being dissatisfied with your body to loving and embracing the way your body was made and designed!
Ways to promote a healthy body image:
- Drop the destructive self-talk such as “I’m so fat, I’ve got to lose weight.” This type of self-criticism implies that one’s outward image is more important than inner character.
- Embrace joyful movement. No need to force yourself into exercise that makes you miserable. Instead, participate in an activity that you enjoy. Have fun and celebrate all your body can do!
- Stop treating food as a reward or punishment and instead encourage eating a variety of foods in moderation.
- Respect what other people say, how they feel, and what they do. Focus less on the way they look.
- Learn to honor and express your feelings instead of using food to deal with complicated feelings or relationships.
We'd love to hear about how you promote a positive body image! Comment below to share your tips.
Article contributed by amfamfit
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