Overview

Body image is your attitude towards your body - how you see yourself, how you think and feel about the way you look and how you think others perceive you. Your body image can be influenced by your own beliefs and attitudes as well as those of society, the media and peer groups. This page has videos, stories and a factsheet.

Topic Videos

Interview with Blake Doyle from AINT HOT Clothing

Tara O'Sullivan from Tune In Not Out, did a great interview with AINT HOT Clothing founder, Blake Doyle this month. Blake talks about his vision of AINT HOT Clothing, how he envisions a brand where no-one is better or worse than on another. He talks about his bullying experience in high school and how it does not phase him any more.

  • Author: TINO
  • Upload Date: 25/1/2012

Produced by Tara one of our Youth Content Producers. Thanks too www.ainthotclothing.com

Stories on this Topic

Featured Story (image)

What defines beauty + my story

It's a word we use almost every day to compare ourselves to others, judge others and to make a choice over which product to try based on its better-looking packaging. However, not one of us knows exactly what 'beauty' or 'being beautiful' is. Why then do we aim to be something we do not know?

Body Image has a top concern for young people today, but is also one that has been virtually ignored by the media and fashion industry that has created a world obsessed with the ideology of beauty.

Photo shopped images of tall, stick thin but yet curvy models has given society a warped indication of beauty with various unhealthy diets to lose weight and obtain the virtually impossible airbrushed look. Excessive behaviour leading to illnesses such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa has been strongly related to the pressure to look perfect.

This has led to a beauty fascist society where those who look 'different' and 'uglier' than the norm are subject to discrimination and social stigma. Yet the people with physical disabilities and/or disfigurements seem to be those who are mentally, the strongest and most comfortable in their own skin, Joanne Hutchins for example, accomplished writer and ambassador for Don't DIS my ABILITY. With so much prejudice against their appearance, they admirably still manage to live life to its fullest, enjoy a healthy mind and feel beautiful.

After previously struggling with my own body related self-esteem issues, including an attempt to starve myself, I understand what it feels like to feel body-conscious. Here are a few tips to help you treasure yourself with a healthier body and mind:

Read the rest if this inspiring blog here

  • Author: Lily
  • Upload Date: 2013-06-26

Written by Lily

Factsheet

Provided by Reach Out

We have partnered with Reach Out to bring you the best factsheet information we can on this topic. Reach Out offers information, support and resources to help young people improve their understanding of mental health issues, develop resilience, and increase their coping skills and help-seeking behaviour.

What is body image?

body image information

Body image is your attitude towards your body

Body image is your attitude towards your body - how you see yourself, how you think and feel about the way you look and how you think others perceive you. Your body image can be influenced by your own beliefs and attitudes as well as those of society, the media and peer groups.

What’s the difference between healthy and unhealthy body image?

An unhealthy body image is thinking your body is disgusting, unsightly or not good enough. For example, thinking that you look too fat even thought others tell you this is not true, thinking that you’re not pretty enough or muscular enough. It can also mean believing what you look like determines your value as a person. Someone with negative body image can become fixated on trying to change their actual body shape.

A healthy body image is being comfortable in your own skin, being happy most of the time with the way you look, and feeling good with yourself. It’s about valuing who you are not what you look like.

Body image affects both males and females, the information on this page is great for everyone, but we do also have a topic page that focuses on guys on body image.

How do people get unhealthy body image?

The media has a lot to do with unhealthy body image. We are bombarded daily with pictures of photo shopped bodies that are unrealistic and unobtainable and basically fake – and these can make you feel bad about your body in comparison.

Other things that can influence body image include…

  • friends or family
  • celebrities
  • advertising
  • cultural background

How to improve your body image

Having negative body image is not only bad for your health, it’s also incredibly time consuming and a waste of time. Spending all your time obsessing over how good you look means you’re spending less time enjoying life and being yourself. It is important to remember that you cannot change some aspects of your appearance. Your height, muscle and bone structure are determined by your genes; this is the way you are born.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to body shape or appearance. Everybody is different in body size and shape and appearance and we can celebrate this diversity and individuality. Some things you can do to improve your body image:

information on body image what is body image

Question the images in the media

Question messages in the media

So many pictures these days are photo-shopped to the point where those body shapes are impossible to achieve. Don’t compare yourself to the images in the media. If you have to compare yourself, try to recognise the similarities of body shape you have with your parents, grandparents or aunts and uncles.

Give your body some love

Focus on your positive qualities, skills and talents and what your body can do rather than on how you look. The body is amazing; appreciating and respecting all the things it can do will help you to feel more positive about it.

Choose your media

Subtle media messaging about ‘perfection’ have a sneaky way of working into your subconscious, whether you notice it or not. Try to stick to media that doesn’t make you feel crap about yourself. Avoid magazines or television shows that say you need to change what you look like in order to be attractive.

Find your own style

Wear what’s comfortable and what looks good on you. When you feel like your clothing suits you, your body image will improve and you’ll feel a lot better about what you look like. In reality, people find interesting and unique people more attractive than people who look fake or who are trying too hard.

Avoid critiquing other people’s bodies

When we make fun of other people for their looks, we end up feeling crap about ourselves. It’s this weird situation where criticising others gets us focusing on what we don’t like about ourselves. Making someone else feel shit about what they look like is also not something you’d like them to do to you.

Riots not diets

Instead of spending heaps of time thinking about food, weighing food, fantasising about food, Just eat what makes you feel healthy and gives you plenty of energy to achieve what you want with your life. Try to eat healthy and in moderation. Focus on how different foods make you feel – you’ll start noticing which one make you feel tired, bloated, lethargic, and which ones make you feel energetic and awake. Don’t get caught up in fad diets which inevitably end up backfiring, and result in you putting on more weight than you started with.

If body image is getting you down

If negative body image is affecting you, you might need to talk to someone more in depth about it. The information below covers body dysmorphic disorder which is about a more intense feeling of negative body image related to a specific body part.

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Everyone has times when they feel self-conscious about their body, but when it starts impacting on everyday life it can be classed as body dysmorphic disorder. There are a number of characteristics of body dysmorphic disorder as well as numerous causes. If you think you might be experiencing body dysmorphic disorder, there are heaps of things you can do which can help you feel better.

This might be a problem if you…

  • hate a certain part of your body
  • wish you could look different
  • avoid going out because you don’t like the way you look
  • try to disguise parts of your body
  • think life would be better if you looked a certain way

Let's face it - at one time or another you've wished a part of your body looked a little different to what it does. It might be that you think your thighs are too big, your skin's not perfect, or your nose has that little bump in the middle that everyone can see.

This kind of thinking is pretty common and relatively normal, whether it's true or not. However, this kind of thinking becomes a problem when it starts to rule your life. You become totally preoccupied with the part of your body that you think is not okay and these beliefs severely interfere with the quality of your life. This kind of obsessing over a part of your body is known as body dysmorphic disorder (or BDD).

Characteristics of body dysmorphic disorder

body image body dysmorphic disorder

There are many different types of behaviours and symptoms that you might experience if you have BDD, however not everyone experiences every one.
Some signs of body dysmorphic disorder include:

  • frequently checking out how you look in mirrors
  • constantly making sure you look clean and well groomed
  • frequently touching the part of your body that you don't like
  • trying to hide or disguise the body part or yourself
  • avoiding going out or being with others because you feel so self-conscious about your appearance
  • trying to 'fix' the body part - through exercise, medication, surgery, and other sorts of treatment.

If you are concerned that these behaviours sound familiar it is important that you speak to a doctor or psychologist to find out more.

What causes body dysmorphic disorder?

BDD does not have a single cause. It is often due to a variety of different physical and mental health issues. Some of the factors that may contribute to having BDD include…

  • having low self-esteem and negative beliefs about yourself
  • negative self-talk – for example, thinking that life would be so much better if you could ‘fix’ a certain part of your body
  • media emphasis and fixation on the ideal body
  • feeling a lack of control in your life
  • stress or coping styles
  • relationships with family and peers
  • genetics and chemistry
  • sexual abuse or trauma

What to do if this sounds like you

If you think you might be dealing with body dysmorphic disorder, there are a number of things that might be able to help. Some of these include:

  • Chat online or by email to a counsellor from headspace
  • Talk to a GP and find out more about treatment options
  • Find out more about cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Try online tools like MoodGym to train your brain and thoughts

If you feel like you might be experiencing something different, like an eating disorder, have a look at topic section about eating disorders and where to seek help. We also have a list of services which can help listed at the bottom of the page.

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Join the Discussion

Tell us how you have positively managed this topic and help others find their way through...

16 Responses to “Body Image”

  1. andre says:

    this is good

  2. faye says:

    i was just wondering, for one of my assignments at school, why is body image so important? i mean people love us for who we are? not just for how we look. i wish people didnt just judge others on looks because it can make you feel uncomfortable and selfcontious about your self.
    thankyou for your time and effort
    faye

  3. Jade says:

    everyone is beautiful.
    love yah xoxo

  4. vanessa says:

    REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES

    • lil says:

      not neccessarily, some women have very subtle curves and a petite frame. It doesn’t make them less of a ‘real woman’ :)

    • Megan says:

      So you’re saying that if your thin, even if it’s naturally thin, that you’re not a real woman?

    • Holly says:

      REAL WOMEN identify as women; they don’t even necessarily have to have the relevant genitalia. Using a statement that promotes one body type and puts down all others is NOT body positive.

    • Jess says:

      So your implying that if you don’t have curves you’re not a real women? CHECK YO FACTS

    • naya says:

      ALL WOMEN ARE REAL AND ARE BEAUTIFUL! it does not matter if your thick thin tall or short all women are on this earth for the same reason, to reproduce and raise a family that will oneday do the exact same thing and you dont need to be just “curvey” for that to happen

  5. Rihannia says:

    everyone is beautiful in their own way dont change just because people say that its healthy to be thin its not

  6. jackie says:

    i am the mother of a daughter.she is 26 yrs old and has BDD. We have batteled this illnes for 23 years now. I am very concerned about her wellbeing that she is not ever going to be happy,because of this body image perceptiuon. I love her so much and she is very attractive as everyone sees,except her.she has a three yr old son now,and this is al rubing of onto him,my grandson,which makjes me feel sad.id appriciate any feedback on this issue.
    yks jackie [Edited by Crew to remove name]

  7. lynz says:

    Hi Jackie,sorry to hear your daughter is having a tough time, but it is great you are looking out for her – we recommend contacting the Butterfly Foundation for support and further information. They are doing great stuff. All the best hope this help. TINO Crew

    http://www.thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/

  8. Sophie says:

    Jordan’s story is truly inspiring!

  9. h says:

    every women is special and beautiful in her own way, no matter how tall or short you are or what type of skin you have.

    its all about feeling confident in your own skin and don’t care what people thing of you..

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