Body image is the way we feel about and perceive our bodies. A healthy body image is when a person feels comfortable and confident with their body and accepts the way they look. A healthy body image goes hand in hand with positive self-esteem. Negative body image occurs when a person feels ashamed, self-conscious or unhappy with their body.
Having a positive body image (regardless of weight or shape) is linked to practicing healthy behaviours such as getting enough sleep, eating well, and being active.There is a lot you can do to improve your body image, even without changing your body:
- Keep a list of positive qualities that have nothing to do with your physical appearance.
- Surround yourself with those who make you feel good about yourself.
- Treat your body with respect and kindness.
- Accept and value your genetics.
Having a healthy body image is important for children as well as adults. Adults can play a role in helping children develop a healthy body image by:
- Being a positive role model by making only positive comments about your own body shape and size.
- Listening to the comments children make and using these opportunities to discuss body image. For example, “I feel fat in these pants.”
- Talking to children to increase their understanding about their body and feelings about themselves.
- Giving positive feedback.
- Reassuring children that the physical changes they experience during growth are normal.
- Helping children focus on strengths, abilities and unique qualities rather than on their body’s shape and size.
- Helping children develop interests and skills, that lead to success, personal expression, and fulfillment without emphasis on appearance.
- Educating children about how genetics has a major impact on body shape and size.
- Teaching children about the dangers of dieting and modeling the joys of healthy eating, physical activity and feeling good.
- Talking about unrealistic media images, as they are often touched up, photo-edited and not realistic.
- Limiting the amount of media available to children, such as magazines that promote dieting and weight loss.