Body Image

Image of a rectangle mirror on a wall with a blurry individual taking a self-portrait.

What is Body Image?

Body image is how you view your body and how you picture yourself in your mind. This includes your attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions about your appearance as well as how you sense and control your body as you move.

Positive Body Image

Positive body image involves a sense of self-worth that isn't tied to the way you look. This includes appreciating what your body can do as well as what it looks like. Positive body image should also remain constant through changes in your body.

Tips for Body Positivity

  • Practice positive self-talk. Say things like "my legs are strong" or "my body deserves to be healthy and taken care of."
  • Do something nice for your body like a face mask, bubble bath, or walk outside.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others. Everyone's differences are what make them unique and are what make you, YOU!
  • Don't think of your body as the enemy. Everything your body does is to keep you alive and healthy. Try to remember the ways your body supports you and allows you to do things you love.
  • Be critical of what you see in mainstream media such as magazines, commercials, and on social media. These images aren’t reality and can promote standards nobody can reach.

What is Body Neutrality?

Body neutrality focuses on accepting your body the way it is and what it is capable of doing. It also emphasizes neither loving or hating your body, and instead cultivating a neutral acceptance. Maybe body positivity doesn’t fit how you want to feel about your body or you still need some time to get there. Body neutrality can be a stepping stone to body positivity or just a more healthy way to view your body.

Here are some ways to practice body neutrality:

  • Focus on what your body can do, rather than how it looks.
  • Remember that it’s okay if you don’t love your body all the time.
  • Choose clothes that feel comfortable on your body.
  • Participate in fun physical activities.
  • Eat food you enjoy. It’s important to have a balanced diet to get enough vitamins and nutrients, support learning, and fuel your body, but allow yourself treats too.

Social Media

Social media can be positive for body image by providing visibility to a variety of body types, creating uplifting communities, and spreading health information. However, social media has also introduced even more opportunities to promote unrealistic beauty standards, unhealthy lifestyle habits, and an illusion of perfection. Influencers and celebrities may appear to have perfect bodies, looks, and lives online. But these images aren't reality, even to the people who post them. It's important to be critical of what we see online and to avoid comparing ourselves to others.

Here are some tips for using social media in a healthy way:

  • Only follow people who make you feel good about yourself. Unfollow accounts that lead you to compare yourself to others or that promote unrealistic beauty standards.
  • Use social media as a way to explore your interests. Explore recipes, hiking trails, or enjoys someone's pet photos.
  • Be critical of what you see online. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Limit your time online. Too much time on social media can negatively affect your mental health.
  • Take breaks from social media. If being online is starting to make you feel drained, don't be afraid to sign out of your accounts and take some time away.

Additional Resources

Learn more about individual nutrition counseling services, or join us for our annual Love Your Body Week. 

Page last modified May 16, 2024