A positive body image consists of several various factors. A person with positive body image has a sense of acceptance, respect, and control of their body. Overall, a healthy body image is the ability to recognize and accept one’s body shape and size. Unfortunately, a person’s belief about their appearance and how they feel about their body, weight, shape, and size frequently plays a role in developing an eating disorder.
A negative body image is often fueled by a distorted perception of their body.
Someone with a poor body image may begin to compare themselves to others and believe that other people are more attractive than them and that their body is a failure compared to others.
Often a person can feel ashamed, self-conscious, uncomfortable, or anxious about their body and then they can become obsessed with their body shape, weight, food and calories which can lead to an eating disorder.
Positive Body Image – Acceptance of Self
A positive body image is when a person has a clear perception of their own body and respects their body. A healthy person will value and accept their natural body shape, and appreciate that physical appearance does not define one’s value or worth.
Individuals with positive body image are typically proud of their bodies and spend little time worried or stressed about their weight, body shape, food or calories.
A negative body image can play a role in developing eating disorders, and people with a negative body image typically struggle with depression, feelings of low self-esteem, and obsess about their weight and weight loss .
One Organization’s Quest
Body Image Movement is an organization that is working to change society’s view of self-worth, value, body image, and self-acceptance . They work to facilitate body image activism and empower women to be accepting of who they are and to use positive body language.
Body Image Movement focuses on saying ‘no’ to photos that use photo editing programs such as Photoshop in the media. They also say ‘no’ to societies normalization of photo editing in social media.
The organization also works to encourage a zero tolerance for the sexualization of girls and women within the media as well as women being treated as sexual objects and objectified.
The Body Image Movement encourages women worldwide to say ‘yes’ to body diversity, to use alternatives to cosmetic surgery, and to accept one’s own body .
They also encourage saying ‘yes’ to the education of women as a vehicle to their dreams, as well as how to empower women with skills to be resilient in today’s society.
Liberation of Criticism
The Body Positive is another organization that works to liberate all people from self-hatred and instead, value one’s own beauty and identity. They focus on the power of education and making positive changes .
This organization works to provide all humans with a whole-person model whose emphasis is on non-shaming of the human body. They have five Core Competencies to their model. They are:
- Health: defined as the connection between physical, psychological, and emotional needs of humans
- Practicing Intuitive Self-Care: through listening to one’s own body and acquiring resources for healthy living
- Cultivate Self-Love: through acceptance and forgiveness of self by letting go of self-criticism
- Declare Your Authentic Beauty: by experiencing beauty outside-of-the-box through being creative, and personal acceptance of self
- Building A Community: through connecting with others who hold a positive body image, providing education where needed, and being a role model for yourself and others in body acceptance
The Body Image Movement works to erode negative body image through body-oriented and emotional education by helping people create positive relationships with themselves.
Making Peace With Our Bodies
Learning to love one’s body can be challenging. The person has to change the way they currently think about and interact with their body. Learning to accept their body and developing a healthy body image can play a significant roll in overcoming an eating disorder.
One tool for increasing body acceptance includes utilizing websites that promote a positive body image such as the one referenced above the Body Image Movement, and The Body Positive. These websites are useful for connecting with others, gaining resources, and learning how others change their behaviors and thoughts to create lasting change.
A second tool is to connect with others who model positive body image and acceptance. Positive body image mentors are often found in gatherings like a local yoga class or a community positive body image group. Gaining resources and support from others is empowering and can help foster lasting change for recovery.
A third tool is to seek treatment for negative body image and self-loathing. Many people need therapy to assist with any life struggle, and poor body image is no different.
Working on self-loving statements is a fourth solution. These statements could be being grateful that you were able to use your legs to get from one place to another, or for your eyesight to be able to read an email or letter.
A fifth tool is choosing to accept all parts of your body. It is essential for self-acceptance. Start with something small such as your hair color or the color of your eyes.
Continual work on accepting one’s body can be a slow process, but do not stop the progress made. Understand that learning to develop a positive body image may take some time. Be patient and know that you are worth the work.
About the Author: Libby Lyons is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS). Libby has been practicing in the field of eating disorders, addictions, depression, anxiety and other comorbid issues in various agencies. Libby has previously worked as a contractor for the United States Air Force Domestic Violence Program, Saint Louis University Student Health and Counseling, Saint Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute Eating Disorders Program, and has been in Private Practice.
Libby currently works as a counselor at Fontbonne University and is an Adjunct Professor at Saint Louis University, and is a contributing author for Addiction Hope and Eating Disorder Hope. Libby lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys spending time with her family, running, and watching movies.
References: What is Body Image? (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2018, from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/what-body-image
 The Movement. (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2018, from https://bodyimagemovement.com/the-movement/
 Welcome to The Body Positive. (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2018, from https://www.thebodypositive.org/
The opinions and views of our guest contributors, are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published on March 3, 2018.
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com