Negative body image – How to overcome it?

negative body image

Family, peers, and society play a crucial role in developing both positive and negative body image. A person with a positive body image feels satisfied with their body and appearance. On the other hand, a person with a negative body image feels displeased about its physical appearance or body. The person with a bad body image may:

  • Lack confidence
  • Feel uncomfortable in get-togethers
  • Feel ashamed
  • Always compare themselves with other unrealistic characters or beauty models
  • See themselves and their body parts in a distorted way

The effects of negative body image are sometimes severe and can lead to certain mental and other health issues like depression and anxiety. A person may also adopt different unnecessary and unusual treatments, beauty therapies, surgeries, unhealthy weight loss methods, and a lot more.

What is a negative body image?

A body image is how you think or feel about your body, its size, shape, weight, or even about certain body parts. It affects people of all age groups. A positive body image can improve self-esteem, and self-acceptance while a negative body image may destroy both.

Negative body image can be a combination of the following factors:

  • What you think of your body’s appearance
  • How others see it
  • How your limbs move
  • How different parts of your body looks like
  • Your assessment of different body parts and overall weight

Negative body image starts normally at an early age. When puberty starts, most individuals do not like their looks and it dissatisfies them. Studies suggest that this may get worst if there is a bad relationship between parents and their offspring.

Society, cultural pressure, and peers also play a major role in developing negative body imaging and your overall perception of the body. The societal views about age, gender, weight, height, color, illness, abilities, hair, and clothing also have a strong influence on our perception development over time.

These standards keep on changing, however, it has always remained a problem for many people.

Effects of negative body image

Negative body image is not just a matter of visual or aesthetic gratitude. The displeasure may lead to certain mental health issues, eating disorders, or other unhealthy habits. These people are at higher risk of developing certain conditions like:

  • Mood swings or disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relationship problems

People with Obsessive-compulsive disorder may also have bad body image.

Signs and symptoms

If you have the following signs – you may have a negative body image.

  • If you always think about your body and its interference with your work, people, and relationships.
  • You do not like to see your body again and again.
  • You evaluate your body parts too much like weighing yourself frequently or examining your body in front of the mirror.
  • You are always conscious about your looks in public.
  • You cover or hide certain parts of your body you don’t like.
  • You remove your hair excessively.
  • Think about plastic surgery or have had it excessively.
  • You always describe your looks in bad words.
  • You intentionally cause harm to your body.

If any two to three signs are found in you, you may have a negative body image. You need to consult your counselor and talk with him for proper treatment.

Treatment options

This condition may lead you to severe anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems. The good news is effective treatments are available for this condition.

Here are a few therapy treatments and medicinal options that may help you control this condition.

CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)

CBT is a talk therapy that may help you change your perception of your body image. Your talk therapist will help you eradicate the filthy thoughts. A therapist will develop relaxation techniques to relieve your stress and anxiety. CBT is one of the most effective methods to treat this condition. However which CBT method is beneficial for negative body image still needs to be identified.


If you are trying to change your perception of body image, you may try different medications. It is highly recommended to always consult your doctor before starting these medications as they may cause harm or side effects. These medications are not suitable for everyone.

According to some researches, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are found effective for this condition. This medication is mainly used for certain anxiety disorders, however, it may help you in treating body image. 


Studies suggest that childhood traumas, memories, and sexual abuse may also lead to negative body image. A psychotherapist may help you overcome this condition by discussing your history, memories, certain events, or other associations that are triggering body image.

A trusted and professional therapist will also provide you with a trustworthy environment to discuss everything. He will also tell you about the harms that may be caused by negative body image.

Physical activity

Different physical activities may also help you in overcoming negative body image. Increased physical activity releases more endorphin hormone. It prevents anxiety and negative thoughts.

Tips to overcome negative body image

Changing your perception of negative body image may take time. It requires a lot of patience, time, energy, effort, and support from your family and friends.

These tips may help you set realistic and meaningful goals to create a positive body image.

  • Engage yourself in other healthy activities and make a list of to-do things.
  • Pen down all the things you like the most about yourself or your body. It can be your skills, abilities, looks, or anything.
  • Stay away from the people who give you negative energy, disapproval, or discouragement.
  • Surround yourself with the positive people who love and admire you.
  • Make a list of all negative things you say about your looks or body. Turn them into sophisticated words.
  • Stay away from social media. It will give you time and space to set your goals regarding your body image and give you mental clearness and calmness.
  • Redefine beauty standards in a realistic manner.
  • Take control of yourself. Choose what you desire, not what others want.
  • Choose what makes you comfortable like clothes, shoes, cosmetics, or makeup products. 


A person with a negative body image involves comparing oneself with unrealistic and superficial beauty standards and ideals. This leads a person to various eating disorders, unhealthy habits, and mental problems.

A negative body image can be treated by talking to a counselor or taking certain medications.

Talk to your doctor or adopt a few habits to change your perception of body image. Take your time to understand what your body is for, not how it looks, and choose your own path of peace.        

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