What is a typical body image?

Almost all of us worry about our physical appearance in some way. Body consciousness and its perception is significantly affected by physical changes that occur during our adolescent years, by peer relationships and acceptance, as well as by messages on social media about the ideal and preferred body. It is expected that sometimes, we attempt to change our appearance through hair styling, makeup, clothing, and accessories, quickly and with relative ease. Because of the many changes and influences on the perception of one's body, some level of body dissatisfaction is typical. However, extreme focus on our physical appearance and excessive attempts to change it should be given attention to.


When should I pay special attention to body image?

Some of us have really unrealistic ideas of how we look. When we have negative body image perceptions of ourselves, we may either keep our thoughts about our appearance, and any attempts to make changes, a closely-guarded secret, or we may talk about many things we do not like about ourselves openly. Both are usually unhealthy.

It is not expected from us to be overly fixated on our appearance. When that’s the case, we may have an unrealistic  body image, meaning that while others see a healthy person, we see ourselves as entirely different people when we look in the mirror. Additionally, reassurance from family or friends that there is nothing wrong with our appearance may do little to change our thinking or what we see in the mirror.


Other concerning behaviors include:

  • Use of nutritional supplements and anabolics to accelerate body changes.
  • Excessive exercising (e.g., weight lifting), sometimes leading to overtraining.
  • Persistent occupation with skin scars, hair and face features (e.g., excessive use of make-up, solarium).
  • A feeling of unattractiveness.
  • Repeatedly checking perceived defects in mirrors or cell photos of self.
  • Low self-esteem, emotional instability and difficulties in social interaction.


What can I do if I struggle with body image problems?

It can be hard and frustrating to deal with body image problems. If you understand that you struggle with them, there are a few things you may try: 

  • Ask a trusted adult for help. Trusted adults are usually our caregivers, other family members, or someone else who is responsible for taking care of us. Let your trusted adults know about your difficulties. They can be helpful for assisting you and helping you get any additional help you may need.
  • Remember that a healthy and functioning body is more important than anything else. Even though looks are important and count for something, our bodies allow us to experience life regardless of their form or looks. Our legs allow us to walk and go to new places or have new adventures. Our arms allow us to hug the people we love. Our core helps us stand and stay up to do the things we like.
  • Remember the good things about you. When we have body image problems, it is common to feel bad about ourselves. Try to remember the nice things about you, your strengths, and also what makes you interesting. Everyone is unique in some sort of way.
  • Exercise, eat well and do things you enjoy. Maintaining physical wellness and practicing pleasant activities may improve your mood and be useful distractions at times.
  • Try getting involved in activities that you are good at. Activities, particularly activities that you are good at can help you to build a sense of confidence and enjoyment.
  • Avoid speaking critically about your appearance. The ways we talk to and about ourselves matter. Avoid using negative statements to talk about yourself to others or when you are just thinking, even when you feel that negative way.

If you have already tried some or most of these suggestions and the problems you are facing persist, it may be time to ask a trusted adult to seek out professional support. 

Body image problems that are too frequent, intense, present in many different contexts, discrepant from those experienced by others the same age, and that negatively interfere with our daily lives may indicate the possibility of Body Dysmorphic Disorder.


What kind of professional support can be sought out?

It is not unusual for us to feel embarrassed, inadequate, or guilty if we are struggling with body image problems. But, if you think you are facing this difficulty, support, and guidance are available now.

Pediatricians or family physicians can help to address initial concerns and refer to specialized professionals. Also, whenever possible, a consultation with a mental health professional may be helpful.

The public system provides services through the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and Centers of Multidisciplinary Assessment, Counseling, and Support (KEDASY).


Where to find more information

Specific, detailed, and clinical information on Body Dysmorphic Disorder can be found at [clinical short guide at the program website].

If you want to know more about the closest available services for educational and public health systems for children and adolescent assistance across the country, go to our Services Mapping webpage here.

You can also find more information by pointing your phone camera at the QR code below or by clicking here.



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