Body Image

Having a positive body image is an important part of well-being. When you feel good about your body, you are more likely to have good self-esteem as well as healthy eating and physical activity habits.

What is body image? (click to expand) »

Body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind. The image of your body that you have in your own mind may or may not match your body’s actual shape and size. Body image also refers to what you believe others think about your body and appearance. Your body image can change throughout your lifetime.

Having a positive body image means that you:

  • accept your body and are comfortable with the way you look
  • recognize the qualities that make you feel good about yourself beyond weight, shape or appearance
  • resist the pressure to strive for the “perfect” body that you may see in the media

What is self-esteem? (click to expand) »

Self-esteem is how you value and respect yourself as a person. It is the opinion that you have of yourself inside and out. When you have healthy self-esteem you can appreciate and celebrate your strengths and your abilities.

Why are positive body image & self-esteem important? (click to expand) »

When you have a positive body image and self-esteem you respect and take care of yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Both body image and self-esteem positively impact mental health.

How is body image formed? (click to expand) »

Body image forms over time and begins to develop in childhood. It is affected by both past and current experiences. Some of the most common factors that affect body image include:

  • Media, including digital and social media
  • Family & friends
  • Culture
  • Beauty & fashion industry
  • Sports industry
  • Body changes, such as puberty, pregnancy and aging

For more information on these factors visit: Body Image and Self-esteem in Youth – Parenting in Ottawa

How to Build a Positive Body Image (click to expand) »
  • Do things that make you feel good about yourself. This includes wearing clothes that fit well and feel good on you.
  • Appreciate your body for what it is and what it can do.
  • Focus on the positive aspects of your body.
  • Work toward accepting yourself, including your size and shape.
  • Treat your body with respect.
  • Eat well-balanced meals and be active because it makes you feel good, not as a way to control your body.
  • Surround yourself with people who appreciate and respect a variety of body types.
  • Be aware of how you talk about your body with family and friends and notice when you judge yourself or others based on weight, shape or size.
  • Be mindful of messages you hear and see in the media. You can learn more about media literacy at

If you have positive body image and self-esteem, you can be a role model to others. If you are positive about your own body, it will be easier for others around you to be positive about their body.

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Last updated: 2024-01-19