What is body image and why is it important?
Body image is the way you think and feel about your body. Having a healthy body image is important for overall well being as it can enhance self-esteem, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve relationships and life satisfaction. On the other hand, a negative or distorted body image can lead to disordered eating, body dysmorphia, low self-esteem, and poor mental health.
What does it mean to have a healthy body image?
Healthy body image refers to a positive and realistic perception of our own body. It encompasses both physical self-acceptance and a recognition of the role our body plays in allowing us to live our lives and pursue our goals and interests.
When we have a positive body image we:
- Accept and appreciate our body in its current state, without constantly striving for an idealised or unrealistic appearance
- Do not judge our worth based on our physical appearance
- Have a balanced and healthy relationship with food and exercise
- Recognise that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and do not compare ourselves to unrealistic or idealised standards portrayed in the media
How can we build body confidence?
Focus on self-care
Engage in activities that promote our physical and mental well-being, such as exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep habits.
Treat ourselves with kindness and understanding, and recognize that everyone makes mistakes and has flaws.
Surround ourselves with positive people
Seek out friends and family members who are supportive and who promote positive body image.
Challenge negative self-talk
Identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs about our bodies, and replace them with more positive and realistic ones.
Celebrate our body’s abilities
Focus on what our body can do, rather than just its appearance, and give it credit for all that it allows us to accomplish.
Limit exposure to unrealistic beauty standards
Be mindful of the media we consume and limit exposure to unrealistic beauty standards.
Seek professional help
If we find ourselves really struggling with body confidence, seeking the help of a therapist who specialises in body image and self-esteem can work wonders.
It’s important to remember that building body confidence takes time and effort, and everyone’s journey is unique. We need to be patient with ourselves and focus on making progress, rather than striving for perfection.
Resources to help us focus on healthy body image
Books and podcasts
There are many books and podcasts available that address body image and self-esteem. Reading books like Body Respect by Linda Bacon or listening to podcasts like The Body Love Society can provide insights and inspiration for improving our relationship with our bodies.
Fitness classes focused on fun
Instead of solely focusing on weight loss or body shape, fitness classes that emphasise joyful movement can help us feel more connected to our bodies and improve our body image. Classes like dance, yoga and aerial silks can help us feel more confident and comfortable in our own skin.
Therapists and support groups
Seeking support from a therapist or joining a body positivity support group can be helpful for those struggling with negative body image. These resources provide a safe and supportive environment to talk about body image concerns and work through related emotions.