Is There A Way To Improve Body Image?

Published: June 09, 2014
Dear Is There A Way To Improve Body Image?,

I think I have bad body image. Is there any way to make this better?

Dear Is There A Way To Improve Body Image?,

For our readers who may not know, body image is the way you see yourself and how you imagine you appear to others.

According to Planned Parenthood:

  • Having a positive body image means that, most of the time, you see yourself accurately, you feel comfortable in your body, and you feel good about the way you  look.
  • It is common to struggle with body image, no matter who you are. 
  • Severe negative body image can lead to serious eating and exercise disorders.

Body image is not about how you look, but more about you feel about your appearance. And it is definitely possible to change any negative feelings you may have about yourself.

Planned Parenthood offers the following Tips for a Positive Body Image:

In a world that is constantly showing you narrow definitions of beauty, how can you maintain a healthy body image? Here are some tips:

  • Remember that health and appearance are two different things.
  • Accept and value your genes — you probably inherited a lot of traits from your family members, so love those traits as you love your family.
  • Keep a list of your positive qualities that have nothing to do with your appearance.
  • Surround yourself with people who are supportive and who make you feel good about yourself.
  • Treat your body with respect and kindness.

People may choose to change their appearance in many ways, for a variety of reasons. If you want to change the way you look, be sure to have realistic expectations. If you have a negative body image, it is important to deal with the mental and emotional aspects of it in order for any physical changes to be truly successful.

Some people choose to make lifestyle changes, such as adopting a specific diet and an exercise program, in order to lose weight, gain muscle, or change their bodies in other ways. Often, this can be a healthy choice. If you are planning to make a considerable change in your lifestyle, it can be a good idea to talk with a health care provider who can advise you about the healthiest way to do so.

People also change their looks in other ways, such as coloring or processing their hair, or using products to change the appearance of their skin. Some changes can boost your self-esteem and body image, and some changes may not be as effective. The key is to have realistic expectations about how much changing your appearance can change how you feel about yourself.

Having a negative body image can lead people to feel depressed, angry or stressed out. It can also contribute to the formation of various eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia. If you are concerned about your negative body image and how it may be affecting you, TeenHealthFX recommends reaching out to a trusted adult to talk about this issue. You can speak to your parents, a school counselor, and/or a reputable mental health professional, such as a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist, for support and guidance in how to deal with this issue.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.