What is Body Image?


Body image and diet are strongly correlated as one’s body image can impact one’s diet. We have shared a lot of posts regarding intuitive eating and food freedom but have yet to talk much about body image. Body image is a huge topic and definitely not something that can be covered in one post. The purpose of this blog post is to provide you with an intro to what body image is.


Body image is how we see ourselves, what we believe about our appearance, how we feel about our bodies, and how we treat our bodies [1]. This can include our height, weight, shape, skin color, etc.) 


Four Aspects of Body Image [2]:

  1. Perceptual Body Image: the way you physically see your body. This is often not a correct representation of how you actually look. 
  2. Affective Body Image: the way that you feel about your body. Emotions include satisfied, dissatisfied, happy, sad. This relates to your shape, weight, and individual body parts.
  3. Cognitive Body Image: the way that you think about your body. This can lead to preoccupation with body shape and weight.
  4. Behavioral Body Image: the behaviors you engage in as a result of your body image. Ex: you may engage in dieting to change your perception of your body, or you may isolate yourself from others when you feel bad about your appearance. 


Body image can be positive, negative, or neutral. Body image is influenced by internal (our thoughts) and external factors (our environments) [2]


One’s body image can be influenced by many factors and can start at a young age. Uncovering the source of one’s negative body image can take time to identify and start to work on improving.


Factors that can Influence Body Image:

  • Parents/Parental Figures: our parents can influence our thoughts and feelings at a very young age. These thoughts and feelings can include those directed at our body image. Parental figures who make comments about their own body size and weight around children can often inflict those same thoughts onto their children and the way that they view their bodies. Although unintentional negative body talk around children can inflict harm on their own body image throughout their lives [4].
  • Peers: How your friends, coworkers, and people you run into on a daily basis talk about their bodies or others can definitely influence your own body image. Adolescents who feel that they are accepted by their peer group often perceive their bodies more positively than those who perceive that being thin is related to popularity among peers [3]. Additionally, peer criticism and teasing at a young age can contribute negatively to children’s beliefs about their physical appearance [3]. Therefore, at a very young age, it is important to understand what healthy friendships look like and be able to surround yourself with individuals who uplift one another and not discuss topics around one’s body image, dieting, fat shaming, etc. 
  • Culture and Media: Media is a huge source that can affect our body image. Growing up with social media at a very young age and being exposed to harmful messages that promote unrealistic expectations around body image standards, can greatly affect body image throughout our lives. Repeated exposure to body ideals online can result in personal perceived flaws that are not actually real [5]. Educating oneself about the truth behind photo editing to promote unrealistic beauty standards and consuming more positive media such as sources that promote all body shapes, sizes, and colors can be extremely beneficial to one’s body image.

Most individuals at some point in their lives or currently have/are suffering from negative body image. Sadly, it is not hard to feel insecure about our bodies in today’s society as so much media that we consume showcases this thin white ideal that is not realistic for the majority of the population. 


How We Can Help!

Our dietitian collective here at Food Ease have completed body positivity training and body image supervision training. If you or someone you know may be struggling with negative body image send us an email to schedule a FREE 15-minute discovery call to see if our services could be right for you.




[1] Body image. National Eating Disorders Association. (2022, March 1). https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/body-image-0  

[2] Body image. NEDC. (2022, July 19). https://nedc.com.au/eating-disorders/eating-disorders-explained/body-image/   

[3] Michael, S. L., Wentzel, K., Elliott, M. N., Dittus, P. J., Kanouse, D. E., Wallander, J. L., Pasch, K. E., Franzini, L., Taylor, W. C., Qureshi, T., Franklin, F. A., & Schuster, M. A. (2013). Parental and peer factors associated with body image discrepancy among fifth-grade boys and girls. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43(1), 15–29. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-012-9899-8  

[4] Burmeister, K. (2019, January 17). What influences body image? BALANCE eating disorder treatment center. https://balancedtx.com/blog/what-influences-body-image  [5] University of Alberta. (2022, January 18). Life lines – the impact of social media on Body Image & Mental Health. https://www.ualberta.ca/human-resources-health-safety-environment/news/2022/01-january/february-2022-life-lines.html

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