Body image is all about how you feel about your body, and what you think your body looks like.
Research studies have shown that approximately nine out of 10 young Australian women have dieted at least once in their lives. And according to one study around one in four Australian men in the healthy weight range believe themselves to be fat.
Get some perspective
Negative body image can affect anyone. To feel at home in your own skin you can make positive choices about:
- Exercise and fitness
- What you eat
- Taking care of your body and mind
- Being clear about what's important to you
It's only natural to be aware of how you look and to care about your appearance, but there's a lot more to you than the shape of your body. Keeping a healthy perspective is important.
The consequences of negative body image
Your thoughts and feelings about your body can be affected by many things, including:
- A changing sense of who you are, where you fit in and what you want
- How you deal with a changing body
- Competing or comparing yourself with other people, or feeling judged by them
- Images and ideas from advertisements, magazines and films telling you how you should look
- Your own sense of what's important
Most people have a few little things they don’t really love about themselves, but if you really don't like the way you look or find yourself obsessing about your body, you might have poor body image.
Negative feelings about your body can lead to things like:
- Crash dieting
- Eating disorders
- Using drugs to try to achieve an 'ideal' body
Issues with body image can often arise out of something a lot deeper. Sometimes people try and change things on the outside because of tough personal issues such as stress, a difficult home life, or another crisis.
Dieting, overeating, constant exercise or taking drugs don't actually fix the deeper problem. They can get out of hand and cause problems with your moods, your abilities and your relationships.
If any of these situations sound familiar, you need to take action - for yourself or for a friend in need. Nobody has to go it alone. There are heaps of information sources, qualified professionals and support groups out there.
Where to find help
The following resources and oarganisations are a good starting point to get the body image help you or your friends need.
- Better Health Channel - information on body image issues, including body image fact sheets for men and for women as well as advice on healthy weight management.
- SeeMe - promoting positive body image and tackling the impact of media portrayals of beauty and gender stereotypes.
- Eating Disorders Victoria - information about eating disorders, why diets don't work, what to do if you think you have an eating disorder, and recovery stories.
- Reach Out - What is Body Image? - advice about body image, including tips on better ways to think about your own body.
- Victorian Centre of Excellence in Eating Disorders (CEED) - information about eating disorders, including personal and stories and a list of resources for finding further information.
For more information on mental health and ways you can get help for yourself or your friends, visit our Mental Health page.