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 - that’s pretty normal. But if you really don't like the way you look or find yourself obsessing about your body - then you've got a poor body image.
Negative feelings about your body can lead to crash dieting, developing an eating disorder, and even 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.
Changes such as dieting, overeating, constant exercise or taking drugs don't actually fix the deeper problem. This stuff can quickly get out of hand and muck around with your moods, your abilities and your relationships. It only adds to any existing problems.
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 to tap into.
Where to Find Help
Use the following resources as a starting point to help you find the body image help you need. All of the links below open in a new window.
Better Health Channel
Detailed information on body image issues, including body image fact sheets for men and for women as well as advice on healthy weight management. Also see the Body image - women and Body image - men pages.
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.