There are two main features of body image:
- How we perceive our appearance (What do we see when we look in the mirror or at a photo of ourself? How do we talk about ourself and the way we look?)
- How we feel about what we perceive (e.g. sad, happy, ashamed, guilty, anxious). How strong are these emotions?
Body image can be described on a continuum, ranging from:
Positive/Body Ownership <- to -> Negative/Body Disassociation
Where do you fit?
If your answer gives you concern, learn more about body image issues and take steps to improve your body image (see links below). If you think you can benefit from professional help, visit our mental health support services page to find the right resource for you.
- Five research-based tips for improving your body image is an article from Psychology today that provides advice for both women and men.
- About Face: About Face’s mission is to “equip women and girls with tools to understand and resist harmful media messages that affect self-esteem and body image”. Check out their gallery of winners and gallery of offenders for insight into the tactics media uses to shape our view of our bodies.
- More than a Body: This site aims to redefine "the meaning and value of beauty in our lives". The blog section contains dozens of thought-provoking articles that include "Photoshopping: Altering images and our minds." There is also a section titled "Really want to feel better about yourself: Here's your 5 step game plan"
- Body Image. This site addresses numerous topics related to body image that include a body image self-assessment and the very funny "What if Barbie Was an Actual Person?" interactive video (use the "Movie Controls"). The site also provides "Tips for a Positive Body Image".
Building Body Acceptance is an information package that is "designed to provide you with some information about body dysmorphic disorder - how it develops, how it is maintained and how to address this problem."
- Building a Better Body Image from Our Bodies, Ourselves offers over a dozen "suggestions on how to stop settling for self-hate and reclaim your right to wellness and joy" from Courtney Martin, author of "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters".
- Men and body image:
Digital images can be altered (retouched) using computer programs such as Photoshop. Retouched images of people are everywhere and many of us are unaware of the extent to which these images don't represent reality and how they affect us. For some, viewing images of "flawless" people in magazines, on the Internet and elsewhere contributes to negative feelings about their own appearance. The more a person knows about the techniques the media uses to portray images of "perfect" people, the better able they are to resist the negative feelings that these images can create. Below are a few websites where you can see the results of digitally altered images. Scroll your mouse over the pictures to see the before and after.