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. If these thoughts are negative, you are NOT alone!

What is negative body image?

  • A distorted perception of your shape.
  • A belief that your body shape or size is a sign of personal failure.
  • A feeling of shame, self-consciousness, and anxiety about your body.
  • Feeling uncomfortable in your body.

What is positive body image?

  • A clear, true perception of your shape.
  • Celebrating and appreciating your natural body shape just as it is.
  • Feeling proud and accepting of your unique body and refusing to spend an unreasonable amount of time worrying about food, weight, and calories.
  • Feeling confident and comfortable in your body.

Body image and eating disorders: people with negative body image have a greater likelihood of developing an eating disorder, and suffering from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and obsessions with weight loss.

Keys To Developing Positive Body Image

  1. Stop criticizing yourself in the mirror. The body you see in the mirror maintains and nourishes your life. Treat it with the respect and love it deserves. Recognize that our bodies come in many different shapes and sizes and focus on the things you love about your body.
  2. Think about all of the things you are missing out on with the time and energy spent on worrying about your body. Don't let your body shape concerns prevent you from participating in activities you love.
  3. Refuse to accept criticism from anyone about your body—including yourself! Challenge any negative thoughts you may have about your body with positive affirmations. Tell others that body criticism has a very negative effect on self esteem, and that it poisons the trust and security in your relationship.
  4. Find friends who are not overly concerned or critical about weight or appearances. Surround yourself with positive people who appreciate you and your inner strengths.
  5. View social and media messages about appearance critically. Question assumptions made by marketing ads and TV shows and films that imply that one has to be "attractive" to be happy and successful. Challenge the truthfulness of images that depict men and women without any physical flaws. Seek out and show support for media images that promote positive messages about differences in body shape.
  6. Wear clothes that make you feel good about your body and reflect your personal style. Learn to appreciate the way your favorite clothes feel and look on you.
  7. Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Learn to see exercise as a great way to improve your health and strength instead of a way to "control" or "fight" your body. Take time to appreciate the positive changes in your emotional and physical well-being when you exercise (i.e., feeling happier, more energetic).
  8. Learn to overpower those negative thoughts and feelings. Instead focus on feelings filled with positivity, affirmations, and acceptance! This can happen through challenging yourself to recognize and end the “fat talk” that happens within your head and in conversations.
  9. Join a movement! Get more involved with others who also want to promote positive body image. A good place to start here on campus is through The Body Project.
  10. Come to the Student Counseling Center for more resources as well as support!