Information

This general information is provided as a guide for young people, parents and caregivers, service professsionals and schools. If you find incorrect information please contact us to have the relevant page updated.

Body Image

Body image refers to the experiences, thoughts and feelings we have in relation to our body. It arises from an individual’s experience of the world - this influences the development of one’s perceptions, beliefs and feelings of how their body looks in relation to those of others.

One’s body image changes over time in response to life events and can be influenced by a range of factors including representation in the media, cultural traditions and attitudes of friends and relatives.

Negative body image is often referred to as poor body image or body image dissatisfaction. Poor body image may affect one’s mental and physical health and affect weight management.

Furthermore, there is a clear relationship between high levels of disordered body image and development of eating disorders. People with poor body image in regard to weight will not necessarily go on to develop an eating disorder, however do be aware if your young person’s eating habits significantly change over longer periods.

When poor body image/body dissatisfaction impacts an individual’s health and wellbeing, support is required.

Strategies

Professionals

  • Schools can take on a "whole school" approach using the Health Promoting Schools Framework, which includes policy development in schools that supports positive body image and professional development and support for teachers.

Children & Adolescents

  • Media images of desirable men and women are often airbrushed or digitally altered, meaning that the image of desire is actually not realistic or attainable.

Parents/Carers

  • Be pro-active – get informed and educated. A lack of knowledge leads to a lack of understanding and empathy for an individual who may be suffering poor body image.
  • Be mindful that parents and carers play a role in communicating values about weight, shape and body attributes.
  • If you are concerned do not delay in getting some advice.