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What is body image?

Body image is a person’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of their own body. This could be how beautiful, attractive, or sexually appealing people view their bodies. Like most cognitions, body image is neutral; meaning people can have positive or negative perceptions of their bodies. Someone can feel beautiful, unattractive, or overweight. Additionally, some people may even have distorted perceptions of their bodies. Some people me feel more unappealing than other people view them. Similarly, some people may have grandiose views of their bodies.

How does body image affect my self-esteem?

Like many other cognitions, body image can be positive or negative, and both can have big impacts on our self-esteem. Having a positive self-esteem can mean a person feels beautiful, attractive, or even comfortable in their own skin. Someone with a negative body image may tend to feel unattractive and uncomfortable in their skin. They tend to develop low self-esteem and have low confidence. Having a negative body image and low self-esteem can be very debilitating and anyone can experience it. It can lead to anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, and in some instances, disordered eating.

How can I develop a more positive body image?

Developing a more positive body image is a journey of self-love. It takes time to unlearn the societal views and standards of beauty that are ingrained in us. However, there are a couple of things you can do to challenge these thoughts. First, take inventory of the neutral things about your body – this is things like “My body wakes up every morning.” Second, write down the things you like about your body. Finally, write down the things you dislike about your body and then try to turn them into positives. Let’s say you don’t like the way your legs look, try to turn them into positives. You can do this by saying things like, “My legs are strong and can carry me places.” Your therapist can also help you challenge these thoughts.

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.