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Body image

Ways to have a healthy body image

Your body image is about much more than how you feel about your appearance. It’s also how you feel in your body, your sense of control over your body as you go about your day, how you think others perceive it and whether or not you believe it’s “good” enough. Keep reading to learn what shapes your body image and what you can do to have a healthier relationship with your body.

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What affects your body image?

Unfortunately, many people believe their bodies and appearance aren’t attractive enough. These thoughts can be formed by messages you receive from your family, friends, the media and other people. If you grow up hearing negative messages about your body or how you don’t measure up, you may internalize these messages and have a poor self-image.

The commercials, advertisements, TV shows, magazines and social media posts you see can affect how you feel about yourself. For centuries, the beauty and diet industries have tried to convince us that we’re not good enough and need to buy their products to look better.

These tactics make these industries a lot of money: The diet industry makes more than $70 billion each year by targeting people’s insecurities about their weight and size. The beauty industry brings in more than $100 billion.

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How to improve your body image

Having a better relationship with your body doesn’t start with losing weight or changing your appearance – it begins on the inside. It’s about your willingness to question what’s being presented to you. Consider these three questions next time you feel like you don’t measure up to an Instagram influencer, celebrity or even a friend:

  • Is this image real? In many cases, photos are edited or filtered. Photoshopping images is standard practice in many magazines and advertisements. Apps that change your appearance – such as the size of your lips or eyes – and add filters are also popular. That means the selfie you see isn’t necessarily what that person looks like in real life.
  • Who decides the beauty “ideal”? The answer: You do! Your body and looks aren’t something that needs to be fixed. Trends come and go. Sometimes the “in” look is super curvy, while other times, it’s tall and thin. If you try to fit in with every trend, you’ll always be chasing something new.
  • Is this image attainable and maintainable? Each of our bodies comes with a genetic blueprint that determines our shape, eye color, hair color and height, among other characteristics. Suppose you can’t achieve your “ideal” image without extreme measures, such as surgery, a strict diet or expensive products. In that case, this image is most likely not in your genetic makeup – and it can be harmful to your mental and physical health to pursue it.

Once you’ve considered these questions, try these tips to improve your body image:

  • Clean up your newsfeed: Unfollow and unlike any pages or profiles that trigger negative thoughts about your looks. Instead, choose to follow people who encourage you to be mentally, physically and emotionally healthy.
  • Celebrate what makes you “you”: Write down 10 things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with your appearance. Maybe you’re really funny, a good listener or excellent at math. Post this list on your mirror where you can see it every day.
  • Avoid unhealthy conversations: If your friends or family members obsess over their weight, appearance or diet, you can change the subject. Ask them about a special event that’s coming up or the latest book they read. Or maybe you spend less time around these people. You don’t have to participate in the body talk of others.
  • Speak kindly to yourself: We all have an inner dialogue. Would you say to a friend the things you say to yourself? Probably not. It’s normal to have days where you struggle with your body image and inner critic. Be especially gentle with yourself on those days, focus on what you like about yourself and practice self-care.

You deserve to feel good about yourself, inside and out. By taking these steps, you can make big strides in having a healthier body image and relationship with yourself.

Need more info? Ask an Expert.


For more information about staying in charge of your health and future, visit:

National Eating Disorders Association

Dove Self-Esteem Project

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