Why Body Image Isn't About What You Look Like

“Your body is the piece of the universe you’ve been given, the place where love and joy and grief happen, where happiness unfolds. Do you really want to keep believing that it’s a horrible, ugly, lumpy thing?” ―Geneen Roth


Many of us think that by changing our body we will feel better about it. However, can you remember times that you’ve lost weight or changed your body and still not felt happy - maybe you felt that you still needed to lose more weight or you fixated on something else you wanted to change? Maybe you look back at old pictures and wonder why you were so worried about your appearance back then because actually you look great in the photo?…


The reason that changing our body often doesn’t improve how we feel about our body is that body image actually has very little to do with what our body looks like. Body image just describes the mental image that we have of our body in our minds and this mental image can become very distorted and look nothing like our actual body. In our minds we may be focusing in on and magnifying things that we perceive of as flaws and ignoring positive physical attributes that we have have. So poor body image often comes from unhelpfully focusing on these things that we perceive of as “flaws” and discounting our positive qualities. This can happen WHATEVER we look like - we can always find something else to feel we need to change and always find some “flaw” to obsess over.


This is why, in order to improve your body image and how you feel about your body, it is important to shift your mindset around your body and not your body itself. Once you are able to be kind and compassionate to your body, accept and embrace your body and celebrate its positive qualities, this is where the true change in how you feel about your body can occur.


How do you feel about your body? A good way to test whether you have a helpful body image, is to ask yourself these questions:

  1. When I think of myself and my body in my own mind what images and words come up i.e. how do I see myself? If the words or images that come up are largely very negative or focus on perceived "flaws" then you may have an unhelpful body image.

  2. Am I able to appreciate and celebrate my positive physical attributes? If not, again this may indicate an unhelpful body image.

  3. Do I spend a lot of time worrying about what other people may think of my appearance? If so, this could indicate an unhelpful body image.

  4. Do I always feel the need to change/fix my body or appearance? If so, this could also be indicative of an unhelpful body image.

  5. Am I harsher and more critical of my body than I would be of anyone else's body? If so, this could also indicate an unhelpful body image.

If you would like some help to shift your body image or to rebuild your relationship with your body or with food, please get in touch at info@thefoodtherapyclinic.com to book in a free consultation.