Body image is how you picture yourself or how you see yourself in the mirror and usually includes your own beliefs about your appearance, feelings you have about your height, weight, and shape, as well as how you physically experience being in and moving your body. This can affect anybody, and many struggle with creating and maintaining a positive body image, which is an important part of mental wellbeing and preventing eating disorders.
If you’re concerned about how you perceive and feel about your body, please reach out to campus resources for support. EMAIL confidential health professional Carol Day at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.
Every body is different, influenced and affected by different genetic and cultural factors. All of these traits come together resulting in unique individuals who all have variations in bone structure, body size, shape, and weight. Every body has a different “ideal” weight, or the weight at which you feel strong, energetic, and able to lead a healthy, normal life. All of these physical factors are different for everyone, and it’s a difference that should be recognized and celebrated.
In light of all of these physical differences, it’s important to remember that comparing our own bodies to others doesn’t tell us what’s the most healthy for our own bodies, and that we can practice healthy habits and attain well-being at any size. This starts by accepting your size, trusting yourself and your body, adopting healthy lifestyle habits, finding joy in moving your body, listening to your hunger cues, embracing size diversity, and trying daily to grow and nurture a positive body image.
Although improving body image is not always an easy task and can often take time, you can work to positively change the way you perceive yourself and your body. The following are some thought patterns to practice that can help introduce healthier ways of looking at your body:
- Appreciate all that your body can do — every day, your body enables you to work toward and strive for your dreams. Celebrate the amazing things your body does for you, including running, jumping, dancing, breathing, laughing, etc. Build strength in physical as well as feelings and attitudes about your body.
- Participate in movement and activities you enjoy — don’t let your body or weight prevent you from moving your body in a way that brings you joy, and don’t participate in physical activity you feel obligated to. Exercise for Fun, Fitness, and Friendship.
- Write and keep a list of ten things you love about yourself — note aspects of yourself that are unrelated to your body’s shape or weight, and read your list often. Add to it as you notice more things you like about yourself.
- Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not skin deep — feeling good about yourself and who you are instills a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that affects how you carry yourself. This beauty is a state of mind, not a state of the body.
- Look at yourself as a whole person — choose not to focus on specific body parts, and try to see yourself as you want others to see you (as more than just your body).
- Surround yourself with positive people — it’s easier to feel good about yourself when those around you support and recognize the importance of liking and accepting yourself as you are.
- Shut out the voices that say your body isn’t “right” or that you’re a “bad” person — overpower these negative thoughts by recognizing that your body’s shape and weight do not make you a “good” or “bad” person. Find a few affirmations that work for you, and use those to remind yourself.
- Wear comfortable clothes — don’t force your body into clothing or outfits that are uncomfortable or make you self-conscious. Wear clothes that make you feel good, and work with your body rather than against it. Develop your own sense of style that makes you feel good about yourself.
- Develop a critical eye for media and social media — be aware of when slogans, images, or media campaigns make you feel bad about yourself or your body and speak up about them (to your friends, on social media, and even by reaching out to the advertiser themselves).
- Redirect energy from worrying about food, calories, and weight to help others — reach out to other people, offer support if you feel capable of doing so, and show yourself that you can make a positive change in the world.