What Is Body Image? - Definition, Facts, Statistics & Issues

Instructor: Jennafer Tomlinson
This lesson defines body image, which refers to how people see themselves. It will also discuss the facts, statistics and issues that stem from having a positive and negative body image.

Definition of Body Image

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see your body in a positive or negative way? Are you happy or sad with the way you look? Ugh, my hair looks horrible! I think I need to lose a little weight. My figure looks fabulous! These are all comments that we, as individuals, have said to ourselves at one point or another, and they all relate to body image.

What is body image? Body image refers to how people see themselves when they look in a mirror. People can have a positive or negative body image of themselves. A positive body image is when people accept themselves regardless of body weight or shape.

Woman Looking at Body Image in Mirror
Body Image

A negative body image is when people feel that they need to improve their bodies because they are unhappy with the way their bodies look.

Facts About Body Image

There are many contributors that help to control the way people feel about their bodies, especially when it comes to a negative body image. How people feel about their body image is usually dependent upon how they feel about themselves, how physical they are throughout the day, and how people, including family members, speak to them about how they look.

Of course, the fact that the advertisement world displays a perfect body image, while the media constantly exhibits individuals who are fit and in shape, just adds to the confusion of just what a normal body is to look like.

Teenagers, on the other hand, experience a number of situations which can affect how they perceive their own body image. Because body image is so closely linked to self-esteem, it is critical that these children view themselves in a positive manner. In addition to the media and other external influences, teenagers have to deal with the hormones that accompany puberty, which may result in more negative feelings about the body changes they are currently experiencing.

Statistics on Body Image

Statistics have shown that there is overall negativity regarding body image. According to Brown University, almost three-fourths of women have reported thinking about their weight constantly throughout the day, and nearly half of all men do the same. In addition to always thinking about their weight, it has been reported that more than half of all women feel some sort of negative influence about their body image after they have looked at women's magazines.

A negative body image can lead to an array of issues including eating disorders, cosmetic surgeries and depression. According to KidsHealth, up to two percent of all teenagers will battle an eating disorder.

Issues Regarding Body Image

Issues regarding body image can be both positive and negative. There are positive effects that stem from having a positive self-body image. When people are happy or content with how they look, they will not worry about unnecessary tasks like dieting. They may also not suffer from eating disorders, and they can accept themselves regardless of their body shapes.

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