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A Better You
by Jo Ann Fore

Positive Body Image

Let’s just agree - feeling good about what we weigh is a basic building block for a healthy self-esteem. But having a positive image about your body is difficult for many people, because the definition of a ‘healthy weight’ is varied.

A positive body image becomes more than a philosophical concept when we learn to nurture our image of ourselves fairly.

In order to develop an attitude of change from negative body thoughts into a positive body image, it’s important to internalize the reasons we may desire a slimmer body; or a healthier weight. Granted a slimmer body is often a healthier body but our internal reasons for obtaining a slimmer body can actually determine the outcome.


If we go on a ‘diet’ for a special event—rather than to feel better about ourselves overall—our rate of failure is higher. If, however, we learn to eat healthier and take better care of ourselves in order to have more mental and physical energy every day, we will have a greater chance of success.

To help us think more positively about our body image, the National Eating Disorders Association has put together a list: Ten Steps to Positive Body Image. While they admit, “One list cannot automatically tell you how to turn negative body thoughts into positive body image”; they encourage us that “It can help you think about new ways of looking more healthfully and happily at yourself and your body. (And) the more you do that, the more likely you are to feel good about who you are and the body you naturally have.” (

1. Appreciate all that your body can do. Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams. Celebrate all the amazing things your body does for you – running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.

2. Keep a top-10 list of things you like about yourself – things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like. Read your list often. Add to it as you become more aware of more things to like about you.

3. Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin-deep. When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel. Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.

4. Look at yourself as a whole person. When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts. See yourself as you want others to see you – as a whole person.

5. Surround yourself with positive people. It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.

6. Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person. You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones. The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you.

7. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body. Work with your body, not against it.

8. Become a critical viewer of social and media messages. Pay attention to images, slogans or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body.

9. Do something nice for yourself – something that lets your body know you appreciate it. Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, find a peaceful place outside to relax.

10. Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories and your weight to do something to help others. Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world.

Use these tips as encouragement as you learn to develop a positive body image. Remember: What we think about our physical appearance matters. Body image influences our self-esteem. Become aware of your positive and negative influences. Your body can hear what you say about it!

Jo Ann Fore welcomes your comments about this article or suggestions for material you would like to see in future articles. Email her at: A Better You is published every Saturday.


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