girl having a bad body image day
  • August 8, 2023

Bad Body Image Day? Here’s How To Overcome It

Bad body image days can happen to anyone. However, if you have poor body image, they may be something you […]

Bad body image days can happen to anyone. However, if you have poor body image, they may be something you deal with quite often.

In this article, we will discuss body image, what can cause bad days to happen, and some practical strategies on how you can overcome them. 

 

What is body image?

Body image is a complex concept that describes someone’s perceptions, thoughts, and attitudes about their body and appearance (1)

It is influenced by societal ideals and standards of beauty, cultural norms, media representations, personal experiences, and interpersonal interactions.

Body image can describe the way someone perceives their body, but can also influence the ways in which someone navigates and interacts with the world in their body (1). 

 

Poor vs. Positive Body Image

Poor body image refers to a negative perception and evaluation of one’s own body. 

You may experience dissatisfaction, dislike, or even hatred towards your appearance.

You may hear the inner critic in your head saying “I have too many rolls”, “I wish my legs were thinner” or “my nose is too big.”

You may find yourself focusing on flaws or imperfections and constantly compare yourself to others. 

This can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, and a preoccupation with changing or “fixing” your appearance. It may also contribute to the development of disordered eating patterns, such as restrictive dieting or excessive exercise, as you strive to achieve your “ideal” body.

On the flip side, a positive body image refers to a healthy and accepting perception of one’s own body. 

This looks like having a realistic and balanced view of their appearance, recognising your strengths and embracing your unique qualities. They typically focus on self-acceptance, self-care, and appreciation of your body for all the incredible things that it can do (2). 

When we feel this way, we often feel comfortable and confident in one’s own skin, regardless of societal beauty standards. It is characterised by self-compassion, self-respect, and a celebration of diverse body shapes, sizes, and features (2). 

One thing we tell all of our clients is; you can’t hate yourself into loving yourself. Which is why working on body image, is a key thing that all of our dietitians work on with clients at Imbodi Health.

What Can Causes A Bad Body Image Day?

There are many things that can cause us to feel bad about our bodies. Here are some of the most common triggers. It might be worthwhile to notice if any of these pop up in your life.

Societal Beauty Standards

Societal ideals of beauty often promote a narrow and unrealistic definition of attractiveness, which can lead to comparisons and feelings of inadequacy when individuals do not meet these standards (3).

What does this look like in real life?

Kim Kardashian starting the trend of Brazillian Butt Lifts, or the early 2000’s heroin chic era.

We often don’t realise the media is influencing us, but it creates a forever-moving goal post of what our bodies ‘should’ look like.

And demonises anyone who doesn’t fit into this ideal.

Media Influence

The media, including magazines, advertisements, and social media platforms, often portray idealised and airbrushed images that create unrealistic expectations about how bodies should look. C

Constant exposure to these images can negatively impact how you feel about your body  (3).

Next time your on your phone, think about how different social media pictures make you feel.

If you’re noticing feelings of guilt or shame about your body after looking at certain pages, it may be time to click unfollow.

 

hands holding a phone with instagram log in page open

 

Personal experiences

Personal experiences can greatly impact body image.

Negative comments or criticism about one’s appearance from others, past experiences of bullying or body shaming, or trauma related to your body can significantly affect how individuals perceive and feel about their bodies.

 

Body changes

Changes in weight, shape, or physical appearance due to factors like puberty, pregnancy, aging, or health conditions can sometimes trigger negative body image feelings.

 

Comparison and social comparison

Comparing oneself to others, whether in person or through social media, can contribute to feelings of dissatisfaction and self-criticism, especially when individuals perceive themselves as falling short of certain standards.

 

Mental health issues

Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders can exacerbate negative body image and contribute to distorted perceptions of one’s body (4).

 

Cultural and family influences

Cultural norms, family attitudes, and beliefs about body image and appearance can play a significant role in shaping individual body image perceptions (3).

 

What Are The Signs Of Bad Body Image?

The way poor body image presents itself can vary greatly person-to-person. Below are some common signs that someone may have poor body image. 

  • Excessive focus on appearance: Constant preoccupation with one’s physical appearance, including perceived flaws, weight, or specific body parts.
  • Negative self-talk: Frequent self-criticism, harsh judgments, and negative comments about one’s own body.
  • Comparison and envy: Constantly comparing oneself to others, particularly in terms of appearance, and feeling envious or inadequate as a result.
  • Avoidance of social situations: Withdrawing or avoiding social situations or activities that involve showing one’s body. This may include avoiding social gatherings, swimming, or wearing certain types of clothing.
  • Disordered eating patterns: Engaging in restrictive dieting, binge eating, or unhealthy weight control behaviors as a means to achieve a desired body shape or size.
  • Body checking and mirror avoidance: Frequently checking one’s body in mirrors or reflective surfaces and feeling distressed or avoiding mirrors altogether due to negative body image thoughts and feelings.
  • Constant Seek for Validation: Seeking constant reassurance or validation from others about one’s appearance and seeking external validation as a measure of self-worth.
  • Anxiety and Depression: Experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression related to body image concerns, such as feeling sad, anxious, or overwhelmed by negative thoughts about one’s appearance.

 

 

 

How Can This Affect Me?

Bad body image can have profound effects on an individual’s well-being. 

Emotionally, it can lead to decreased self-esteem, causing feelings of inadequacy and a diminished sense of self-worth. 

Negative body image can also significantly impact mental health, increasing the risk of conditions such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. 

The constant focus on perceived flaws and the pressure to conform to societal beauty standards can result in emotional distress, self-criticism, and distorted thoughts about one’s own body. 

The physical consequences of poor body image can manifest in disordered eating patterns, such as restrictive diets, binge eating, or unhealthy weight control practices. These behaviours can also increase the risk of developing an eating disorder. 

BOOK IN A FREE DISCOVERY CALL WITH OUR DIETITIANS
 

What To Do On A Bad Body Image Day

On these days, when you’re just not feeling the best about yourself, it’s important to prioritise self-care and engage in activities that promote self-acceptance and well-being. Here are some suggestions for how you can do this:

 

Practice self-compassion

Be gentle with yourself and practice self-compassion. Remind yourself that your worth is not solely determined by your appearance.

Some helpful ways to practice self-compassion include talking to yourself as you would a friend or loved one, or try self-compassion journalling exercises. 

 

Challenge negative thoughts

Recognise and challenge negative thoughts about your body. Try to replace them with positive affirmations or counter them with realistic and kind statements.

If positive affirmations about your body feel too uncomfortable at first, try reframing these thoughts to ones with a more neutral tone. For example:

Instead of “I hate the size of my legs”, a helpful reframe might be “My legs are able to carry me through the world”.

 

Engage in mindfulness or meditation

Take time to center yourself through mindfulness or meditation practices. Focus on the present moment and cultivate a non-judgmental attitude towards your body.

 

woman in activewear meditating on the bed to overcome a bad body image day

 

 

Do Some Joyful Movement

Do movement that you enjoy and that make you feel good. Focus on the enjoyment of movement rather than solely on the outcome or changing your body.

This could look like going for a leisurely walk out in nature, doing some gentle yoga in the sun, or playing a social sport.

Surround yourself with supportive people

Seek out friends or loved ones who support and uplift you. Share your feelings with them or simply spend quality time together.

Practice self-care

Engage in self-care activities that make you feel nurtured and cared for. This can include taking a relaxing bath, reading a book, listening to music, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy.

 

Dress comfortably

Wear something that makes you feel comfortable and confident. Choose outfits that make you feel good in your own skin, regardless of societal expectations.

This could mean dressing in your favourite colours, or choosing clothing that fits comfortably against your body.

 

girl wearing comfortable clothing

 

Limit social media exposure

Take a break from social media or curate your feed to include positive and body-positive content. Avoid comparing yourself to others and focus on your own journey of self-acceptance.

 

Seek professional support

If negative body image persists and significantly impacts your well-being, consider seeking professional support from a dietitian or psychologist who specialises in body image and self-esteem.

 

Summary

Body image is a complex concept, that can be influenced by many different factors. 

It can have many profound effects that can impact one’s life, including poor self-esteem, low self-worth and preoccupation with changing appearance. 

Remember that everyone has bad body image days, and it’s okay to feel this way.

 It’s important to be kind to yourself and practice self-care during these times. Focus on nurturing your mental and emotional well-being and developing a healthy relationship with your body over time.

 

If you are struggling with the hard stuff around your body, working with a professional such as an experienced dietitian or psychologist can help. 

If you are interested in learning more about how a dietitian can help improve body image, you can book a free 15-minute discovery call here. 

BOOK IN A FREE DISCOVERY CALL WITH OUR DIETITIANS
Written by: Accredited Practicing Dietitian Jade Wrigley

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