Understanding Body Image: Part 1

When you read the words “body image” what does that mean to you? Body image is actually a pretty complicated topic. I google searched a definition and there were over 4 million results and quite the variety of definitions. For our conversation, I decided to select my favorite definition:


A term that refers to a person’s inner picture of his or her outward appearance. It has two components: perceptions of the appearance of one’s body, and emotional responses to those perceptions.

There are multiple factors which influence your body image. And I’ve decided to create a series of blog posts dedicated to helping us better understand what creates our own body image. I will not make promises to change your body image (this may take a lot of work in therapy). But I can give you some tools and insight to get started with your body image work.

Body image issues are influenced and made made manifest in four areas: perception, cognition, affect, and behavior. The following four blog posts in this series will target each of these individually. Often, people believe that they can only feel better about the way they look once their physical appearance changes. I am here to tell you that it is possible for your body image to improve without any physical changes taking place.

I have worked with countless individuals who admit that the only time they felt slightly ok with their physical appearance (if at all) was when they were engaging in harmful eating and exercise patterns that became self-destructive and non-sustainable. My hope with this blog series on understanding body image is to help you empowered by realizing WE create our own body image. And I promise, the only lasting way to feel better about yourself is by treating your here and now body with love, kindness, and lots of self-care.

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  1. It’s definitely an interesting topic. When I was in college (the first time) was one of the only times I had true body image issues… I was a Chemistry major so I truly thought one needed some form of concrete evidence to substantiate claims (or to validate

    beliefs) so I decided for a couple of months take a picture of myself in the mirror every day. On the back I wrote my feelings about my body that day (they always seemed to change) and on the front, the date. At the end of the two months I lined them all up

    by date and for the life of me I could not tell you which days I *knew* my legs were fat and which days I *knew* my stomach was out of control.. why? because my body for the most part really didn’t look different in those pictures during those two months…

    That little experiment taught me a lot.

  2. Wow Dandelion Girl, that is a fascinating experiment! It is so interesting that what we see in the mirror is highly influenced by so many factors: beliefs, emotions, clothes, time of the month, what you have eaten, etc. Your experiment really shows the

    reality that our perception can change dramatically, but typically weight isn’t changing all that much.

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