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The Relationship Between Body Image and Self-Esteem

Developing a more positive body image will improve your self-esteem, and that improves your life.

Last Updated: Oct 25, 2021

Close-up view of a man in a black suit and white shirt adjusting his blue and black-striped necktie.

A person’s thoughts about their appearance can affect how they feel about themselves as a whole. Several factors influence your self-esteem. Your vision of yourself typically begins forming in early childhood and continues developing throughout adulthood. Some of the factors contributing to how you feel about yourself include your family dynamics, social relationships, and even cultural differences.

When it comes to body image, there are some things beyond our control that we must learn to love no matter how hard it seems. At the same time, there are other aspects of body image that are within our power to control to some extent, even if they seem uncontrollable.

Differentiating between the two is part of a good strategy for encouraging a healthy body image. Take, for instance, hair loss or natural weight gain as we age – in many cases, there are hair loss treatments or exercise and nutritional programs at our disposal, if we want to use them. Height, on the other hand, is an example of a physical attribute we can’t modify.

The Difference Between Self-Esteem and Body Image

Body image is how you think and feel about your body. Another way to describe it is the evaluation of your physical appearance, especially regarding how you think others may perceive you.

Conversely, self-esteem is the way you feel about yourself as a person. It’s how you see yourself and how much value you place in your existence. Self-esteem can take into account many different factors related to life in general.

The primary differences between self-esteem and body image are that body image refers only to how you see yourself, while self-esteem can be a more complex concept that considers your thoughts and feelings about the world around you.

The similarities between self-esteem and body image are that they both focus on how you feel about yourself. As a result, they both can affect how you behave and interact with others. Moreover, they are both natural human considerations.

Positive Body Image and Self-Esteem

Regardless of any flaws, people who love their bodies are more likely to be confident and enjoy life. There are several ways to gain a positive body image, such as:

  • Appreciate all that your body does.
  • Eat nutritious food to fulfill your body’s demands.
  • Understand that looks have nothing to do with talents or value.

You may feel more capable and energetic when you have positive and healthy self-esteem. You will also probably maintain realistic expectations while treating yourself well, which can lead to increased self-esteem.

In addition, people with more self-esteem tend to have a realistic view of their shortcomings and strengths, allowing them to get the mental clarity necessary to succeed at work, school, or relationships.

Ways To Create a Positive Body Image

There are several ways to foster a positive body image:

  • Avoid comparisons with the images you see in magazines or other media. You are unique and should embrace your body shape and size.
  • Work on learning to love every part of yourself.
  • Maintain a healthy and proper hygiene routine to keep your mental health and physical health feeling refreshed each day.
  • Set realistic expectations for yourself based on who you are instead of what society has to say about beauty.
  • Try participating in activities that you love, even if they don’t involve physical activity or spending time at the gym. This can help you feel more positive and confident with your body image and give you something fun to do.

Working with a therapist can help you apply these ideas in your life in such a way that works best for you. It may be daunting preparing for your first therapy appointment, but it’s worth the effort. In combination with healthy daily habits, therapy can positively impact your physical health too, so there’s even more reason to give it a try.

Moreover, it doesn’t matter where you are or when you need therapy; there are various ways to get into treatment. For instance, BetterHelp online therapy brings your therapist to the comfort of your home. However, if that’s not quite your style, in-person sessions might be your best bet.

Negative Body Image and Self-Esteem

A negative body image can stem from a variety of issues ranging from unrealistic expectations to body dysmorphia. Overall, having a negative body image can damage your self-esteem and can lead to depression or other mental health conditions.

Notably, a positive attitude is key. Negative thinking can negatively impact both physical and mental health. Anything from family remarks to unrealistic body types on social media may influence people’s body image.

Signs of a Negative Body Image

Though the signs of a negative body image are not always easy to identify, there are some ways you can tell if someone is struggling. If you notice any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, it might be time to take action:

  • Negative thoughts that focus on body weight and appearance as the reason for failure.
  • Inability to feel comfortable no matter what they wear or how they look.
  • Refusal to go out in public if their body looks a certain way.
  • A lack of interest or ability to be intimate because they are concerned about others seeing their bodies.
  • Negative thoughts that lead to negative behaviors, such as avoiding social situations where weight is at the forefront (for example, going out with friends)

If you notice any of these, it’s time to work on the root of the issue. Negative thoughts and actions can have a detrimental impact on your mental and physical health and, consequently, on your relationships. This might result in intimacy issues that require medication to help you regain comfort and confidence in being intimate with your partner.

For some, it might be challenging to talk about these problems on your own. However, with the help of a good counselor, you can overcome negative thoughts and behaviors.

Making an Escape From Negative Body Image and Low Self-Esteem

There are always methods to elevate oneself — consider the following for ideas:

  • Be around people who support you, as opposed to tearing you down.
  • Work on loving yourself no matter what other people may say or think about your body.
  • Try to engage in a hobby that makes you feel great rather than focusing solely on weight-loss goals (for example, going for a run after work instead of drinking with friends).
  • Create goals that have nothing to do with remedying the physical attribute that bothers you.
  • Incorporate simple practices into your daily routine, such as getting enough sleep and being kind to yourself in the process.

Negative thoughts and behaviors can negatively impact your health in both the short and long term. If you want to live a happy life free of anxiety, depression, or intimacy issues, then seek the help you deserve sooner than later. Everyone deserves to live a happy life.