Person walking away from a tape measure and weighing scales

This article, ‘Improve Body Image’, was printed in Body Image and Self-Esteem – (Issues), an educational resource used in GCSE, A-level and further education courses, and Body Image – (Issues Today Series), an educational resource aimed at Key Stage 3 students, published by Independence Educational Publishers Ltd.

How to Improve Your Body Image

For most of us, there are things we do not like about our physical appearance, such as our weight and body shape. These things can often get us down.

So what can we do to improve our body image perception and feel more confident about ourselves?

Practice Self Affirmations

Self-affirmations are positive statements about yourself that you repeat aloud daily.

Write them down on pieces of paper; stick them on the mirror, on the fridge, on your desk, by the bed, even under your pillow – anywhere they will get your attention, and when they do, read them out loud.

Even if you don’t believe the statements are true at first, eventually they will trickle into your subconscious and become part of your reality, helping you to overcome any negative feelings you have about yourself.

You must start and end each day with a positive affirmation. Here are some examples:

  • ‘I am going to feel good about myself all day.’
  • ‘I feel very happy about the way I look.’
  • ‘I have many things to be proud of in my life.’
  • ‘Today I am going to achieve all the things I want to.’
  • ‘My body is healthy, strong and functioning well.’
  • ‘I can’t wait for the next challenge in my life.’
  • ‘I am going to eat healthily and exercise often to improve my health.’

Ditch the Scales

You only need to monitor your weight if your health is at risk from being underweight or overweight, in which case your health care provider should take of it. If you cannot resist the urge to hop on the scales, remember these points:

  • There is no ‘one’ perfect weight. There is no point in trying to achieve something that doesn’t exist.
  • Weight fluctuates depending on the time of day, when you last ate, time of the month, etc, so what’s the point?
  • Ditching the scales will help stop you from being so hung up about your weight – if you can’t weigh yourself, you won’t know what it is!
  • The scales don’t tell you anything helpful; most of the time they make you feel disappointed. Before scales were invented, people couldn’t weigh themselves – and they coped!

Remember, Images in Magazines and Television Are Not Real

Stop comparing yourself to people with so-called ‘perfect’ bodies in magazines and on television. It is unrealistic to expect to look like them and it is unlikely you will ever look like them – no one will because it’s just not possible!

For one thing, fashion models are not representative of the population. Quite often they are thin and of an unhealthy weight, possibly suffering from eating disorders themselves to keep their weight down and get work.

Clever camera angles, good lighting, expert make-up and airbrushing are used to get that image of ‘perfection’.

It’s just not real; no one gets out of bed looking like that. Similarly, the bulging muscles seen in men’s fitness magazines are unobtainable for most men, unless of course they are prepared to spend five hours a day in the gym and make use of anabolic steroids.

Related article: Compulsive Exercise.

High-profile, ‘perfect’ looking actors on television have a team of people to cook for them, train them to get into shape, do their make-up and hair and so on, otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to look the way they do.

Like models, they face huge pressure to look a certain way to get work.

For the rest of us ‘normal’ people, let’s stop trying to look like these people. Let’s concentrate on enjoying real life and the things that matter; it’s simply not worth wasting our energy on things that don’t.

Focus on Your Health

Your body is a fine piece of machinery with astounding capabilities. Think about what you do for it in return. Does it deserve the constant battering about not being good enough? Does it deserve to have so much negativity directed at it?

Why are we worrying so much about the way we look when there are more serious matters to attend to – cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity; these are all things that pose an immediate threat to health, yet we are more worried about the image we see in the mirror.

Learn to appreciate your body and concentrate on looking after it and keeping it healthy. If you give your body healthy foods and regular exercise, it will reward you a hundred times over by becoming fitter, stronger and more efficient than ever before.

Kirby, S. (2009). Improve body image. Body Image and Self-Esteem – (Issues; Volume 170), 38.

Kirby, S. (2009). Improve body image. Body image – (Issues Today Series; Issue 30), 25.

This article was originally published on It was reprinted in Issues and Issues Today with my permission.

More info: The Effect of Gender in Improving Body Image and Self Esteem

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How to Improve Your Body Image

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