Body Image

Body Image

Body shaming and body loathing is a universal problem.


  • 53% of 13-year old American girls aren't happy with their bodies. This grows to 78% by the time they are 17 years old. (Maine 2011)
  • Having a negative body image during childhood may be a risk factor for the development of psychopathologies in later ages.
  • Teenage girls are 12 times likely to die from an eating disorder and any other illness.
    • 30 million people in the US alone that have eating disorders
    • eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
    • although psychological and social attitudes have an influence, they can be one of many triggers toward eating disorders for those with other predispositions.
  • 52% of US teens have reported being cyber bullied
    • bullies are putting their own insecurities onto others. When they say something nasty about someone it is a reflection about how they feel inside.
  •  Social media sites appear to be associated with body image and disordered eating (Holland 2016).
    •   particularly problematic activities including viewing and uploading photos and seeking negative feedback via status updates

Body image is the “figuration of our body formed in our mind.” It consists of two dimensions:

  • Perceptual: the accuracy in judgment of body size, shape, and weight.
  • Attitudinal: involves thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to the body. 

Sociocultural factors - especially the media, parents and friends - can influence in the search for an ideal body.

8-10 year olds have been known to overestimated their body size. The importance of accuracy in estimating body size may be the first step towards adopting healthier lifestyles (Costa 2015)

Strategies to overcome body image issues and build self-esteem.
Many body image programs available, but unfortunately most do not work and make the situation worse.

The best programs address:

  • family friends and relationships
  • teasing and bullying
  • talking about appearance
  • media celebrity culture
  • competing in comparing looks
  • respecting and looking after yourself

Debunk the beauty ideals myth

  • pick out ideal body from magazines
  • is it real? Is it achievable?
  • what are the sacrifices and costs for you trying to obtain this appearance?
  • Could it be detrimental to physical and mental health?
  • who wins from this battle?
    • Answer: businesses.
  • who loses?
    • Answer: We do.
  • redefining what is important and beautiful
  • celebrating achievements, compliments, personalities, morals and values.

Address negative self-talk and perfectionism

  • identify lies (I'm fat, I'm a unlovable, I'm so disgusting, I'm stupid)
  • would you say this to any other person you want to build a healthy relationship?
  • develop relationships with self like anyone else that you would care about

Teach self-appreciation and self-care:

  • Pick out five things you love about yourself
  • Pick up five things you like about your body and what these parts mean to you.
  • Gratitude list:
    • what is good in your life now?
    • remember gratitude list when body image issues arise.
    • refuse body image issues to bring you down.
Also see Expert Talks Videos:


Costa Lda C, Silva DA, Almeida Sde S, de Vasconcelos Fde A (2015). Association between inaccurate estimation of body size and obesity in schoolchildren. Trends Psychiatry Psychother. 2015 Oct-Dec;37(4):220-6. 

Holland G, Tiggemann M (2016),  A systematic review of the impact of the use of social networking sites on body image and disordered eating outcomes, Body Image, ISSN 1740-1445. 17:100-110
Volume 17,

Kajokiene I (2016) Eating Disorders: Why is it so Hard to Treat Them? Tedx Vilnius.

Lawrence I (2017) Ending the pursuit of perfection. Tedx, University of Nevada.

Neves CM, Cipriani FM, Meireles JFF, Morgado FFDR, Ferreira MEC (2017). Body Image In Childhood: An Integrative Literature Review. Rev Paul Pediatr;35(3):331-339. 

Ramsey M (2014) Why thinking you're ugly is bad for you. TED Talk.

Fredriks AM, van Buuren S, Fekkes M, Verloove-Vanhorick SP, Wit JM (2005). Are age references for waist circumference, hip circumference and waist-hip ratio in Dutch children useful in clinical practice? Eur J Pediatr. 164(4):216-22.

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