Our bodies are wonderful! They help us to do things that we enjoy like playing sport or climbing trees or walking to see friends. The most important thing about our body is what it helps us to do rather than what it looks like.
Body image is how you feel about and see your body. It includes how you feel in your body and the thoughts that you have about your body’s size and shape. It might also include what you feel about your skin colour, birthmarks, scars, facial features, clothing and adornments related to your religious beliefs or it might be about physical disabilities.
Sometimes if we don’t feel very good about ourselves on the inside, we might not feel very good about our bodies on the outside. The way you look at yourself might also be affected by what other people say or by what we see on TV, magazines and the internet.
A healthy body image is essential to your health, happiness and overall wellbeing. People with a healthy body image are more likely to feel good about themselves overall and see the way they look as one small part of who they are.
When you have a positive body image, you will be more likely to:
- Feel good, physically and emotionally
- Have fun
- Exude confidence
- Take care of the needs of your body
Fashion and the media is always changing. There are times when having a big bottom, or being fat is ‘in’ and other times being thin is what everyone wants to be. But the truth is there is no ‘perfect’ height or weight. No perfect body! This is why we should all focus on how well and happy we feel.
All around us there are unrealistic images, it might be the toys you play with or adverts on the TV. It is important not to get drawn into these unrealistic ideas and instead to focus on what’s healthy, realistic and most importantly, what’s right for you.
Imagine you and your friend were both given rabbits for your birthdays. You really look after your rabbit, you give it lots of love, healthy food and water and make sure it is warm and gets to run around. Your friend doesn’t really look after her rabbit. What do you think the two rabbits will look like after a few months? Well it’s the same with our bodies.
Eating healthy food, keeping ourselves clean, exercising and having fun, staying away from cigarette smoke, getting plenty of sleep and staying happy and positive are all ways we can look after our bodies. For more ideas go to our ‘looking after yourself’ pages.
Feeling good about your body can take time and involves feeling better about yourself overall. Sometimes negative thoughts build up, creating a wall. This wall should be broken down, brick by brick. The most useful way to do this is by facing the negative thoughts and replacing them with positive thoughts. For example you can tell yourself that you are a kind person, or a fun person or that you have nice eyes. Tell yourself your positive thoughts when your negative thoughts are telling you something different.
It’s also important to recognize that there are some things about yourself that you can’t change — and that doesn’t matter. The way you look is only a small part of who you are and it’s extremely important to remember that your health and wellbeing is so much more important.
- Childline is a helpline for children to talk about any problems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – call free on 0800 1111 or visit childline.org.uk/get-support
- If you are in an emergency and there is a risk to life (yours or someone else’s) call 999
- To report any concerns about the safety or welfare of a child or young person call 01454 866000
There is more information in the ‘Getting help’ section.
Talk to a parent or carer or another adult you trust.
Your school can also help with your wellbeing – just ask a teacher or another member of staff.
Eating Disorder Association: www.b-eat.co.uk Helpline – 0808 801 0677 Youth helpline – 0808 801 0711
A list of recommended books to help young people deal with a range of issues (e.g. self-esteem, bullying, stress).
All books can be reserved free of charge.