Body Image...Sounds Clinical and Boring!

So it kinda is. But bear with me; it gets better.

Body image is a person’s perception of the way he/she looks. Body image also refers to how your brain interprets how you look.

Lots of people feel unsure and weird about how they look, but body image is about more than appearance – it's about how you feel physically, emotionally, and how well you perceive your experiences and the stuff you're good at.

See, the problem is, when a person focuses only on their physical appearance, they may become upset and forget that who they are is important, too. We're not defined by our bra size or how much we can bench. We're just...we're more than that.

What's Negative Body Image?

Many people (boys and girls) struggle with negative ideas or unrealistic expectations of how they look. As a teen, how you look seems to matter a hell of a lot more than it used to, especially during puberty when the body changes a lot.

Girls tend to focus on their weight and the shape of their body, and boys are more likely to be concerned by muscle tone and body shape.

Statistics regarding females and body image (University of CO):

  • As of 1990, girls began dieting on average at age 8.

  • Young girls are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of nuclear war, cancer, or losing their parents.

  • 35% of occasional dieters become pathological dieters, or those who diet more often than not.

  • In studies, 74% of women and girls like a body weight that was 10-20% underweight for age and height.

Statistics regarding males and body image (Purdue University):

  • 30% of men and boys suffer from either anorexia or bulimia.

  • As many as 6% of males have taken steroids by age 18 to bulk up their body.

Clearly body image is a BIG deal to a hell of a lot of people.

What CAUSES Negative Body Image?

Beyond the health problems caused by eating disorders (such as anorexia or bulimia), poor self-image can affect behavior.

Symptoms of Negative Self-Image:

The following may be symptoms of or co-existing conditions to a negative self-image:

How Do I Develop a Positive Body Image?

Remind yourself that appearance and health are two different things.

Respect your body. You only get one of them, after all. You may as well love it.

Ignore the voices that tell you you’re not good enough as you are. Because they are wrong. You ARE good enough.

Appreciate all that your body can do.

Recognize that you are not your body parts.

Surround yourself with positive people who love you just as you are.

Wear clothing that makes you feel happy and good about your body.

Ignore the the idea of “the perfect body.”

Make a list of your positive non-appearance based qualities. They matter!

Hotlines for Body Image:

National Eating Disorder Association 1-800-931-2237.

Related Resource Pages on Band Back Together:

Body Dysmorphic Disorder


Teen Bullying

Other Places To Stalk:

The Body Image Workbook by Thomas Cash, PhD

Body Positive - Boosting Body Image at any Weight

BDD Central – Information, awareness, and support for Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Eating Disorders Information Index – National Eating Disorder Association

Body Gallery – Search for images of women of all shapes and sizes