What is Body Image?

Body image is thought to be manifested in, and influence some or all of the following areas:

Thoughts and beliefs about the body

  • E.g., “I am 5 feet 3 and I am destined to be fat;”
  • “My body size and shape reflects my value as a person”

Internal feelings and sensations

  • E.g., feelings of vulnerability, sensations of hunger and pain
  • Perceived body shape including over or underestimation of actual size and shape
  • Feelings about one’s own body Judgements, including moral statements (e.g., “I am too heavy”; “The fat on me is disgusting”);
  • Heightened awareness of others feelings, attitudes and beliefs
  • Happiness, desire, disregard “You’ve got Aunt Helen’s big thighs”
  • Sensed fluidity of movement e.g., openness, heaviness, lightness
  • Sense of permeability and solidity – as in feeling that others see right through you, feeling vulnerable to the suggestions, attitudes, thoughts or beliefs of others
  • Detachment Feeling – as though one does not occupy one’s body – that the emotional / mental processes are not connected to the physical / visible processes.

Some other thoughts on Body Image:

Your body image has been formed out of every experience you have ever had:

  • The way your parents related to and touched your body as a baby and a growing child;
  • What you have learned from your role models about what it is like to live in and value a body;
  • The acceptance and rejection you have felt from your peers;
  • Every negative and positive piece of feedback you and your body have ever received from people whose opinions matter to you;
  • The ways you have perceived your body to fit or not fit the cultural images you are presented with
  • Remember: Your body image is not the same as your physical body!

Hutchinson, M.G. Transforming Body Image.

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