How Cultural Traditions Can Shape Body Image

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Our body image, which includes our perception of ourselves and our own body and the manner in which we feel about our body, is influenced by a variety of factors. Many aspects contribute to body image, including the environment in which we are immersed in as well as our biological makeup and genetic predisposition.

Understanding how each of these areas impact how we feel about our body is important to understanding how we can create and build a positive body image.

Cultural Traditions Can Help or Hurt

The culture in which we are surrounded by has a significant impact on how we feel about ourselves and the manner in which we think about our body. Many cultural traditions also contribute to body image and can influence either negative or positive body image and self-esteem.

Depending on the culture and overall emphasis of traditions involved, a person may find their surroundings either conducive to or resistant to the building of a healthy body image and self-esteem.

The Impact of Western Culture

The Western culture in general, for example, is one that tends to hyper-focus on dieting and body appearance. Digitally retouched photos are the norm in which our society is saturated in, and this mentality can negatively influence an individual’s body image.

Other cultures that celebrate and uphold a person’s body and whose traditions uphold what a person is capable of doing rather than their appearance may more effectively support the building of a positive body image.

Culture Is Just One Factor

Teamwork. Hands shakingWhile culture alone is not responsible for a poor or negative body image, the influence and potential in which it can impact how a person feels about themselves and their body are substantial. Being aware of your surroundings and understanding how culture and traditions may affect and impact how you think and feel about your body can be helpful, especially in a conscious effort to build a positive body image and increase self-esteem.

Understanding each of the components that contribute to your body image is an important step towards making a difference in how you see and feel about yourself.


Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing. Her passion is to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work and nutrition private practice.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on 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 July 18, 2015.
Reviewed, Updated & Approved on February 21, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC

Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

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