University Life Café

The Bookshelf → Working towards a Positive Body Image

Preview Points

  • How one sees oneself may affect how he or she makes decisions in life.
  • A positive body image is important because this society focuses so much on idealized body shapes that are near-impossible to attain.
  • The pursuit of a perfect body has led many to serious eating disorders and unhealthy behaviors.
  • Too often, the human body is seen as an “ornament,” not as an “instrument.”



  1. Examine your own feelings about “fat” and “thin.” Work on revising negative attitudes that lead to painful feelings. Ask yourself: Is it benefiting me to focus on what I consider to be flaws in my appearance?”

  2. If mirrors trigger negative thoughts or feelings about your body, avoid looking at them. Notice if avoiding mirrors makes a difference in your image of yourself. Do not use mirrors as a tool of judgment.

  3. Exercise for the purposes of getting that healthy feeling, building strength and stamina, having fun, or reducing stress, rather than exercising to burn calories or change body shape.

  4. If seeing your weight on the scale triggers a negative thought about yourself, try not weighing yourself at all.

  5. Avoid using “fat-ist” language. Pairing negative words with the word “fat” such as “fat and ugly” perpetuates stereotypes about people based on their size.

  6. Demonstrate respect for individuals who do not have body types shown in the media. Round women, angular women, small men, tall men, and people who look unique, are all valued members of the human race.

  7. Look critically at the body building image, particularly, men. It is just as dangerous and damaging as the “thin” message given to women.

  8. Begin to notice how women’s bodies are objectified. Become critical of media images portraying bodies as objects.

  9. Use positive language when describing your own body and others’ bodies. Make body size acceptance statements about your own and others’ bodies. For example: “I have large thighs compared to fashion models, but these are MY thighs, and they work great!”

  10. Emphasize how you feel, rather than how you look. Use positive self-talk: “I feel great!” “I am healthy!” “I have high stamina!”

  11. Focus on what your body can do, rather than how it looks.

  12. Develop a healthy lifestyle that includes good nutritional habits rather than going on weight loss diets.

  13. Aim for lifestyle mastery rather than mastery over appearance. “Lifestyle mastery” promotes the development of your unique gifts, potential, meaningful relationships, self-expression, and growth as a person. Moderate exercise and healthy eating are part of a lifestyle of self-care.

  14. Dress up and adorn yourself with an attitude of having fun, communicating a mood, or making a statement. Adorning oneself to conform to a societal standard is not fun, and that adds stress.

  15. Work on developing an attractive personality and inner beauty. Focus on what you can contribute to the world rather than on how you look. (Brouwers, n.d., pp. 1 – 2).

Concluding Points

  • Maintaining a healthy body image means finding meaning in the true value of a body—its functioning and health.
  • Mass media images of idealized thin women and hyper-muscled men feed into negative body images for those who fall short of celluloid “perfection.”


Brouwers, M. (n.d.) “Working Toward A Positive Body Image.” Oregon State University. 1 – 2.

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Tallie has no avatar

Tallie says:

National Disorders Awareness Week is coming up, I think disordered eating can have a giant affect on our self image.

Posted on Feb 18, 2011

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