Body Image and Self-Esteem: A guide for parents and youth

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Body image is both the mental picture that you have of your body, and how you perceive yourself when you look in a mirror. Self- esteem is how you value and respect yourself as a person—it is the “real” opinion that you have of yourself. Self-esteem impacts how you take care of yourself, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Body image is both the mental picture that you have of your body, and how you perceive yourself when you look in a mirror. Self- esteem is how you value and respect yourself as a person—it is the “real” opinion that you have of yourself. Self-esteem impacts how you take care of yourself, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Body image and self-esteem also directly influence one another—if you hate your body, it’s not easy to feel good about yourself.

When you have healthy body image, you feel comfortable about your body and you know how to take care of yourself. If your body is healthy and at its ideal body weight, you are able to listen to what it needs. This means that you and your body are not too irritable, tired or depressed, too easily frustrated, too anxious or angry, and you have enough energy to spend time with your friends and family, participate in sports and other activities that you enjoy, and concentrate on school or work.

People with good self-esteem often have positive and confident thoughts and feelings about their body. Having a healthy body image means recognizing the individual qualities and strengths that make you feel good about yourself beyond weight appearance, and resisting the pressure to strive for the myth of the “perfect” body that you see in advertisements and in the media.

It is important to remember that your body is unique. Our bodies are diverse—every body is a good body, and no one body shape or size is a healthy or right one for every body else. Even if everyone ate the same food and did the same amount of exercise for a whole year, no one would look the same at the end of the year. Each person’s genetics influence their bone structure, body size, shape, and weight differently. Recognize that beauty, health and strength come in all sizes, and feel comfortable and confident in your natural body shape.

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What can I do?

  1. Treat your body with respect.

  2. Eat balanced meals full of a variety of appealing nutritious foods.

  3. Enjoy regular, moderate exercise for the joy of feeling your body move and grow stronger, not just simply to lose weight, burn calories, and control your body fat.

  4. Get enough rest so you can enjoy each day.

  5. Resist the pressure to judge yourself and others based on weight, shape, or size.

  6. Respect people based on the qualities of their character and accomplishments, not just because they appear slim, well-built or “well put together.”

  7.  Dress in a way that makes you feel good, that makes your own fashion statement and most of all, in clothes that fit you now.

  8. Get rid of all the clothes in your closet that don’t fit. This includes clothes that you can wear only when dieting and clothes that you wear to take away attention from your weight or shape.

  9. Donate or store clothing that is too small, and make room for clothes that you enjoy wearing, and that make you feel comfortable in your body.

  10. Surround yourself with positive friends and family who recognize your uniqueness and like you just as you are. When you are around people and things that make you feel good, you are less likely to base your self-esteem on how your body appears.

 

Jessie’s Legacy, a program of Family Services of the North Shore provides web based eating disorders prevention resources to support BC youth, families, educators and professionals.Visit us at www.familyservices.bc.ca or call us at 1-888-988-5281 (toll-free in BC) or 604-988-5281 ext. 204 (in the Lower Mainland).

 

 
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