By: Angie Heim, LMHP
One thing that can lead to eating disorders, and is also subsequently perpetuated by eating disorders, is poor body image. Body image is multidimensional, and includes what one subjectively thinks of their own body, their perceived level of attractiveness, and their experience of living within their body, including how it feels when one moves and uses their body.
Stop and ask yourself how you feel about your body. What do you think about your appearance? How do you use your body? How does it feel when you move in your body? The answer to these questions can show you whether or not you have a positive body image. Too often people, and women in particular, find themselves engaged in body talk, usually telling others about how “bad” they are for not eating in a certain way or how “bad” they are for not working out, talking about their body shape and size, and/or being critical of someone else’s size. It is a means women have used to bond with other women.
But, what do people with positive body image tend to do? Here is a short list of things people with positive body image do:
- They seek out body-accepting people to share their life with.
- They turn the conversation away from dieting, and move it towards other interests and activities.
- They don’t think that the current in vogue body type is the only beautiful body type. They believe in body diversity and are accepting of all body types.
- They put focus on the functionality of the body, and are more interested in the amazing things a body can do, instead of what a body looks like.
- They show their body respect by caring for it in a loving manner.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but can hopefully be the beginning of guiding one toward a more loving, accepting, and positive body image.
Tylka, T.L. (2011). Positive psychology perspectives on body image. In Cash T.F. & Smolak, L (Eds.), Body image: A handbook of science, practice, and prevention (56-64). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.