Body image is defined as the perception that a person has of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings that result from that perception. These feelings can be positive, negative or both, and are influenced by individual and environmental factors. Body image is very important as it influences many aspects of our lives.
Body image is believed to have four aspects:
- The perception you have for your body
- What you feel about your body
- What you think about your body
- Your behaviors towards your body.
Positive body image is when a person is able to accept, appreciate and respect their body.
The kind of relationship with one’s body has an impact on their physical and mental health. Positive body image is beneficial to many health-related indicators. A study shows that individuals with greater positive body image report less depression, higher self-esteem, fewer unhealthy dieting behaviors, lower drive for muscularity, and greater intentions to protect their skin from damage.
A person with a healthy body image has an objective, undistorted view of their body and appearance. They do not spend a large amount of time checking their body or perceived flaws, or comparing themselves to others. Having a healthy body image may mean that a person is able to engage in their social, sexual, work, or private lives without body image concerns getting in the way; or, it may mean accepting some dissatisfaction with one’s body image or appearance and engaging in life’s day-to-day activities anyway, despite this concern
Having a healthy body image may also include identifying the unrealistic and unattainable standards of beauty and thinness portrayed in the media, and avoiding making comparisons with these portrayals
Below are simple methods that can be used to promote a healthier body image:
- Get familiar with acknowledging the parts of your body or your appearance that you like, not just your flaws.
- Make a list of the functions your body performs that you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, yoga, etc., and engage regularly in those activities that make you feel good in your body.
- Cut down or work towards stopping checking your body for flaws and comparing your body to bodies of others.
- Access self-help materials such as books or podcasts that talk about building body acceptance.