Body Esteem refers to how we feel about our body, and the extent to which we are satisfied with our body and appreciate its qualities, and enjoy, respect and care for our body.
It's more than how someone 'looks' or his or her appearance, body shape or size. It's related to the 'perception' and the 'feelings' and 'thoughts' that we may have about our bodies, which can be positive or negative.
Body image is the perception that a person has of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings that result from that perception. These feelings can be positive, negative or both and are influenced by individual and environmental factors.
There are four aspects of body image:
1. How you see your body is your perceptual body image. This is not always a correct representation of how you actually look. For example, a person may perceive themselves as overweight when they are actually underweight.
2. The way you feel about your body is your affective body image. This relates to the amount of satisfaction or dissatisfaction you feel about your shape, weight and individual body parts.
3. The way you think about your body is your cognitive body image. This can lead to preoccupation with body shape and weight. For example, some people believe they will feel better about themselves if they are thinner or more muscular.
4. Behaviours in which you engage as a result of your body image encompass your behavioural body image. When a person is dissatisfied with the way they look, they may isolate themselves because they feel bad about their appearance or employ destructive behaviours (e.g. excessive exercising, disordered eating) as a means to change appearance.
Positive body image occurs when a person is able to accept, appreciate and respect their body. Feeling good about your self and your body image can positively impact on other areas of your life and improve:
Self esteem, which dictates how a person feels about themselves and can infiltrate every aspect of life, and contribute to happiness and wellbeing.
Self-acceptance, making a person more likely to feel comfortable and happy with the way they look and less likely to feel impacted by unrealistic images in the media and societal pressures to look a certain way.
Healthy outlook and behaviours, as it is easier to lead a balanced lifestyle with healthier attitudes and practices relating to food and exercise when you are in tune with, and respond t the needs of your body.
While changing your actual appearance can be counterproductive, improving your body image is a constructive goal. We have the power to change the way we see, feel and think about our bodies. Here are some helpful tips:
The media is a big influencer on our body esteem, and unfortunately often a negative one. By understanding that what we are presented is often manipulated allows us to challenge what we see and not allow these to have an impact on us.
The videos below give a brief insight into the effort the media can go to. Why not talk to your teacher or community leader about running a media literacy lesson - not only can it be very interesting but have a significant impact of our abilities to build positive self esteem - visit our events page for more information.