What is Body Image?

Body image is defined as a person's perception of their physical self and their thoughts & feelings, positive, negative or both, which result from that perception. It can be influenced by a number of social factors, such as culture, the media, and interactions with family and friends. It often adapts to reflect new information, people, and experiences.

What is Body Neutrality?

Body neutrality is about neither loving nor hating your body. Its aim is to reduce the emphasis on physical appearance as a component of a person's self-worth and it acknowledges that a person’s body is only a small part of who they are. It’s also about focusing on caring for the self, regardless of a person’s feelings about their body.

What is Body Positivity?

The idea that our bodies can and should be loved and celebrated and that everyone deserves to have a positive self-image. While body positivity often promotes self-love, it still emphasizes physical appearance. The main difference between body positivity and body neutrality is that body positivity requires positive feelings about a person’s body as a pre-requisite for a positive-self-image whereas body neutrality seeks to de-emphasize the relationship between physical appearance and overall self-image.

What is Body Negativity?

Body negativity is defined as 1) dissatisfaction of body or body parts 2) Preoccupation with appearance 3) Engaging in behaviors such as frequent mirror checking, body checking, self-weighing and avoidance of public situations. The greater the discrepancy between how we perceive our body and how we think it SHOULD look, the greater the level of dissatisfaction.

How to Develop a Healthier Body Image:

Curious about what practices you can employ to improve your body image? Keep reading for some ideas:

1. Practice Body Neutral Affirmations

Try reframing negative body thoughts to more neutral thoughts. See examples below or come up with your own. It’s important that whichever neutral thought you pick that it rings true to you.

  1. I am more than just my appearance, shape, and size
  2. I am deserving of love and respect, no matter what my body looks like
  3. My body is the least interesting thing about me
  4. My body deserves care, compassion, and kindness, even if I have negative thoughts about my body today
2. Practice Body Respect

Work on accepting your genetic blueprint. Genetics play a huge role in determining things such as body weight, shape, and appearance. Remember that everyone has different genetics and therefore different bodies. Media often excludes the natural diversity of body sizes due to widespread anti-fit bias. Get mad at this exclusion, not at your body. Even though you may wish for a different body you can still practice taking care of the one you have. There are many ways to do this including eating regular meals, drinking water, getting rest, wearing comfortable clothes for your current body, making time for movement you enjoy, and more. Your body deserves to be treated with kindness, dignity, and respect.

3. Change your social media algorithm

We know that social media algorithms tend to give you more extreme versions of content you originally engaged with. For example, if you started following influencers for work out ideas you may eventually notice you are getting content about weight loss and dieting. You can change this by checking in with yourself and unfollowing accounts that make you feel guilty or negatively about your body or your food choices. Check out our resource guide at the bottom of this webpage that has a list of accounts the share more body neutral content: https://chaw.fsu.edu/services/nutrition.s