How to Develop a Healthy Body Image

By Tonka Dobreva 03.01.2017 interact

March is Eating Disorder Awareness Month. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States suffer from a “clinically significant eating disorder” at some point in their life. One of the life-long relationships that we develop, from a very early age, is the relationship with our own body. It’s also one of the most challenging things to do. According to a Brown University study of college students, 74.4 percent  of the normal-weight women thought about their weight or appearance “all the time” or “frequently.” But women aren’t the only ones —  46 percent of the normal-weight men surveyed responded the same way.

What Is Body Image?

Brown University experts say that body image is defined by the following:

  • How we perceive our bodies visually
  • How we feel about our physical appearance; how we think and talk to ourselves about our bodies
  • Our sense of how other people view our bodies
  • Our sense of our bodies in physical space (kinesthetic perception)
  • Our level of connectedness to our bodies

What Affects Body Image?

Body image can be negatively or positively affected by what people say about our bodies, especially people who are close to us like friends, family, peers, teachers. It can also be shaped by what ideals and standards we have about physical appearance, whether by comparing ourselves to other people or what we see in the media. Body image can also be affected by trauma (physical or psychological) or illness.

Is Feeling “Fat” Really About Your Body?

One of the most common negative feelings associated with body image is feeling “fat.”  Some experts argue that we can have feelings of body dissatisfaction that may have nothing to do with the actual state of our bodies — and these negative feelings come up whether our bodies change significantly or not. When we focus on our bodies, we may be trying to escape from other struggles or challenges in our lives that we don’t want to deal with.

So every time we try to “fix” our bodies, we may damage our relationship with eating food, activity and body image. Second-guessing the “I feel fat” thoughts and finding ways to look at your body beyond the numbers of pounds, Body Mass Index, body fat, etc. may help you feel better about our bodies and can help us make transformational changes.

Tips for Healthy Body Image

Here’s what experts from University of Illinois McKinley Health Center suggest we do to maintain a good relationship with our bodies:

  • Accept that bodies come in a variety of shapes and sizes. This is what makes us interesting!
  • Remember that you may be your worst critic. Others may find you really attractive.
  • Expect normal weekly and monthly changes in weight and shape.
  • Explore your internal self, emotionally and spiritually. Also look at yourself as a growing, changing human being.
  • Explore all the things you have to offer others: recognize your positive qualities.
  • Decide how you wish to spend your energy: should pursuing the perfect image occupy most of your time, or would you rather enjoy the people and positive things in your life?
  • Be aware of your own weight prejudice. Explore how those feelings may affect your self-esteem.

comments

  1. darby

    I think eating healthier will make my body image better

  2. Marisol Deanda

    I am twelve years old. I had an Eating Disorder last summer, and I am proud to say that I am healthy again.

  3. korie espenschied

    i need to gain weight by a little

  4. R.Alvarado's 4th grade class

    Thank You, Channel One News! This was very helpful!
    -Progreso West Elementary, Miss R. Alvarado’s 4th grade class

  5. kara

    I want to here the pro’s and con’s of this situation.

    • izzy

      same

    • Erin

      Pros: none
      Cons: it can kill you, you may not be able to have kids later, you get addicted to this really easily, etc.

  6. Mallory

    It is very important to have a good self-body image. I think the reason why we may have such bad ones, is because of social media. People believe that to be “pretty ” you need to be skinny. Those pictures in magazines and advertizements are most likely photoshopped. So why do we want to be fake? Simple, everybody else does too. Be original, be you.

  7. DiabloRidr

    I sometimes feel fat. I sometimes think that it is because of those photoshopped pictures in magazines and stuff.

  8. Kimberley Allen

    I have feelings in my body about being fat how do I fix it.

    • Erin

      Working on “talking back” to those thoughts when they come up is what I usually do. Therapy helps also.

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