What is body image?
Body image is our mind’s relationship with the body and how we perceive our body. It’s the way we feel about our body, how comfortable or uncomfortable we are in our body. Our body image starts forming from a young age as we take in information from all around us.
Social media and body image
The lack of diversity in social media, TV, movies and advertising can be major contributors to a negative body image. Plus, most photos we see have been edited to portray a picture of perfection that isn’t attainable in real life. Models and celebrities have their waists photoshopped even smaller, curves accentuated, a thigh gap edited in, teeth whitened, jawlines sharpened, muscles defined,… I could go on. It’s easy to start seeing what is portrayed in the media as the norm and wondering why our body doesn’t conform to that standard. We’re bombarded with the message that we aren’t thin enough or curvy enough, that our muscles aren’t toned enough, our skin should be texture-free, that stretch marks, birthmarks, scars and cellulite need to be hidden. Feeling like our body doesn’t meet this unattainable standard can lower self-esteem and sometimes encourage unhealthy diet changes. That’s when advertising companies can swoop in and use our insecurities to sell detox teas, trendy diets, and weight loss programs.
Nutrition and diet can be heavily affected by body image. Our dietitians can help you attain a balanced diet and improve body image.
Negative body image
We all have moments where we don’t exactly love our bodies. But when negative thoughts and feelings start to take over our minds and prevent us from living freely, there’s an issue. Being hyper focused on weight, shape and size are signs of a negative body image. People with poor body image may feel shame, guilt, frustration, anger and/or sadness about their bodies. They may also experience frequent negative self-talk.
We aren’t the only ones affected by our negative body image either. When we see others judging their own body, especially friends and family, it can rub off on us. Kids are especially vulnerable to picking up these behaviours as they’re still learning and soaking up all of the information around them. When they see someone they love and look up to speaking negatively about their body they learn to do the same about their own body.
How do I build body acceptance?
Start by cutting the negative self talk. Tune into your thoughts, and when you notice a negative thought, replace it with a positive one. It may look like this:
- Negative thought “I hate my big thighs”
- Positive replacement “My strong legs allow me to walk, run and dance”
Write down or journal some positive things about your body and how you can respect it such as:
- What my body does for me
- What I love about my body
- What’s unique about me
- What I can do to help it stay strong and healthy
You deserve the freedom of body acceptance. It’s okay to ask for help on your journey to body acceptance. Our dietitians can provide support and guidance in building a healthy relationship with food.