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Body Image &

Body Dissatisfaction
Body Image you can do right now to improve your body image:
 Accept your genetics—all bodies are genetically
Body image can be defined as a person’s
wired to be a particular size and shape, and your
attitude towards and their perception of
body will fight to maintain this. Forcing your body
their body. Attitudes may include positive
to change is likely to come at a tremendous cost.
and negative beliefs, which are strongly
influenced by our experiences (e.g. family,  Consider factors that have influenced your
friends, media places, things around us). body image. How did your attitudes & perceptions
develop? Have they changed over
Use the following questions to help you
time? What would help you to start
work how you feel about your body:
creating a positive image now?
 Consider what you do like
 How do I talk to myself about my body?
about your body. Scan your body for
 What do I see when I look in the mirror? things you like rather than dislike. If
 How do I treat my body? this is difficult, start with a body part that you dislike
 Would others agree with my attitude? the least. Practice paying attention to it.
 How do I experience others talking about and  Body function. Consider each body part for its
treating my body? purpose or function. Legs allow us to walk, run, and
Your physical perception of your body (the image you dance. A womb may bear a child one day. A scar
see in the mirror) is not a correct representation of tells a story about your life. What parts of your
how you look. Some people view themselves as body are you grateful for?
overweight when they are underweight, or see  Identify activities that help you feel good in
particular body parts as being defective even though your body. Go to the beach, play a
these defects are not visible to others. musical instrument, practise yoga or
relaxation, have a bath, walk the dog,
Body Dissatisfaction visit a friend...
Unfortunately, it is not unusual for people to  Reduce body checking and
express dissatisfaction with their bodies. avoidance. These behaviours
However, in some individuals, body reinforce negative body image. Read our handout
dissatisfaction can lead to debilitating on Body Checking and Avoidance for tips.
consequences, such as in individuals with eating  Expand your areas of interest. When undue
disorders and body dysmorphic disorder. importance is placed on one aspect of life (e.g.
Consequences may include: appearance), other interests may be neglected. Think
 Emotional - anxiety, depression, anger or frequently of a new activity to try, or an old interest to return
“feeling fat” to. Make a plan to try something new this week.
 Cognitive - body dissatisfaction, strong negative  Evaluate your body image attitudes as if you
beliefs, preoccupation with weight, shape or were a scientist or lawyer. Do you have factual
particular body parts evidence to support your beliefs? Do others agree
 Behavioural - severe dietary restriction, driven with your attitude? Where is your Body Mass Index
exercise, seeking surgery relative to the healthy weight range?
 Body checking - weighing, mirror checking,  Identify “feeling fat”. People with poor body
comparing your body to others image often say “I feel fat”. “This is one way of
 Body avoidance - wearing baggy clothes, avoiding expressing feelings that are hard to label, interpret,
situations where body is exposed (e.g. swimming) or acknowledge. Try to identify and explore
emotions that might be triggers for “feeling fat”.
 Undue importance being placed on appearance - it
may have become the most important aspect of life  Keep at it. Remind yourself that improving body
image takes time and practise.
Body Acceptance  Consider the features that make other people
It is unrealistic to aim to be completely satisfied with attractive. Is it always purely their appearance? Or
our bodies, but we can learn to be more accepting. is it also their personality, attitude and actions?
This is likely to take some time, but there are things
C entre for
This document is for information purposes only. Please refer to the full disclaimer and copyright statement available at
http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au regarding the information from this website before making use of such information. linical
See website www.cci.health.wa.gov.au for more handouts and resources. Last updated 25/01/18. nterventions