When you look at yourself in the mirror, how do you feel? The thoughts you have about your appearance — your height, weight, shape, and the way you move — create your body image. If you feel unhappy with how you look, feel, and take up space in the world, you have a negative body image. A positive body image helps you see your body as it really is, and accept, appreciate, and love the skin you’re in.1

Negative body image …

  • Warps your perception of how you look
  • Makes you feel like your appearance doesn’t “measure up” to others’ looks
  • Creates anxiety and worry
  • Keeps you from feeling comfortable with yourself

Positive body image …

  • Lets you see and embrace your body as it truly is
  • Helps you remember that your value is rooted in more than just the way you look
  • Allows you to eat food, wear clothing, and do activities you enjoy
  • Gives you confidence2

What Affects Body Image?

The way you see yourself is influenced by many different things. Having a negative body image does not mean you are weak. Like your self-esteem, your body image is a product of your environment as well as your internal thoughts.

Your body image is shaped by:

  • Comments and opinions of other people about your or others’ looks
  • History of abuse of any kind
  • Messages from TV, internet, magazines, and other media
  • Your upbringing and culture1

Improving Your Body Image

If you want to change the way you think and feel about your body, start with good self-care:

  • Do something you love that exercises your body — swim, walk, run, bike, dance
  • Feed yourself good, healthy food
  • Get good sleep
  • Reduce your stress3

Counseling can also help you redirect your negative thoughts and help you accept and value your body.


  1. Brown University Health Promotion
  2. National Eating Disorders Association
  3. Office on Women’s Health