Health & Wellness Articles

Boost Your Body Image

Self-Love and Acceptance at Any Size

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On a recent trip to California, I went on a hike in Runyon Canyon, a park near my daughter’s apartment.  During my climb, I overheard two women chatting behind me.  One was expressing concern regarding comments her teenage daughter had recently been making.  It seemed that she was miserable about her body, feeling ''fat'' and ''ugly'' compared with her other friends.  According to this woman, her daughter's weight was well within the healthy range, and she had ''quite a lovely figure.''
I hiked on and began thinking about body image.  Why is it that so many people in America suffer from such poor body image?  I have watched too many of my daughter’s friends struggle, have met way too many women my own age who still express body dissatisfaction, and have even come across it with male clients over the years.  These days, you can never be thin enough, muscular or toned enough, or beautiful enough.  The effort and energy many are exerting to look better is not only exhausting, but also severely decreasing their happiness and life-satisfaction.
Humans have been concerned with appearance and physical attractiveness throughout history. However, in these modern times, it seems as if normal concerns have turned into obsession for far too many.  In today's media, thin and attractive individuals are portrayed as being wealthier, happier, and more successful and carefree than those who are not thin. The way that we perceive our bodies is largely influenced by our perception of how we stack up against those media ideals, as well as against our peers. Poor body image not only decreases general life satisfaction and happiness, but it can also be potentially deadly if it spurs severe eating disorders or steroid use. Making a targeted effort to improve body image for ourselves and loved ones would be a smart, even life altering, thing to do.  But how?
The answer to this question goes way deeper than just working to improve your body to be the best it can be.  There’s nothing wrong with working to improve your body, especially when weight is compromising your health. These changes in lifestyle habits can be quite helpful, but only if accompanied by a mind-shift as well.
Let’s take a look at some ideas on how to boost body image, both for the short term and the long term.
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About The Author

Ellen Goldman Ellen Goldman
Ellen founded EllenG Coaching, LLC to help individuals struggling with health issues that can be impacted by positive lifestyle change, such as weight loss, stress management, exercise, and life/work balance. As a certified professional wellness coach and certified personal trainer, Ellen holds a BS and Masters in Physical Education and is certified by ACSM, AFAA, and Wellcoaches Corporation. Visit her at Get her complimentary report, 52 Tips, Tools & Tricks to Permanent Weight Loss Without Going on a Diet, at

Member Comments

  • Good Lord - throw the scale away??
    Where in the name of all that is Holy do you FIND the people who write this dreck??
    Be sensible and weigh yourself once a week.

    I fell for that "body acceptance" crap and stopped weighing myself, and I ended up a fat, miserable, out of shape size 22. You have to hold yourself accountable; if you don't accept your failures and shortcomings, you'll never be able to change and you will always be unhealthy.

    - 5/12/2016 10:45:51 AM
  • I can't imagine any of this making any difference. I'm fully aware of my strengths and very appreciative of what my body can do. That doesn't change the fact that I'm embarrassed by my size. - 6/9/2015 2:39:46 PM
    Terrific article! As a fat woman with her fair share of body issues, it always astounds me when I overhear women who are fit, attractive and super healthy engage in self-loathing body talk. It is as if it is a social crime these days to feel comfortable in your own skin. My internal dialogue when overhearing these conversations is "Man, if this amazingly fit woman hates herself so much, she must recoil in terror when she sees me." Even here on Spark I have read a fair share of deliberate body shaming statements whenever someone who is less than perfect has the audacity to like herself. I have yet to come across anyone who has been shamed into perfection whether the shame is internal or external. - 7/18/2014 2:31:52 PM
  • Very good article! When you compliment someone and they say, "oh it's nothing or some other negative statement," my answer to them is just say "thank you." Better to be positive than to give an excuse why you don't feel worthy. Same thing when you do a favor for someone & they start with excuses -- "Thank YOU" will make us both feel good!
    I have just printed the article out -- I have a motivation folder -- Reading it & reminding myself to incorporate many of these great ideas into my daily life. - 3/16/2014 7:29:49 PM
  • I need to read this everyday! Its a great article. Very motivational! - 9/11/2013 1:32:44 PM
  • Eating enough and relaxing enough are my pitfalls - I don't do either and I know I should

    I ought to keep reminding myself that my body is this amazing machine that I'm blessed with, and it performs everything without my having to tell it what to do! Not even the world's most advanced computer can do that!

    And it's the only one I'll ever have, so I guess I should start nurturing it more and torturing it less.

    Thanks for the wake up call SP! - 3/8/2013 9:11:45 AM
  • JMB369
    This is a wonderful article, and I will print it out to remind me of all the things I can continue doing to feel good about myself.

    BUT! A word of caution. In the 1980's I implemented many of these ideas on my own. I accepted myself all the way from 170# to a whopping 230# in 2002. Then I suddenly woke up to the fact that although my weight did not change who I was, it was unhealthy and unattractive. At the age of 62, I decided to lose 50#. In actuality, I lost 75# over the next 4 years, finally reaching a BMI of 24.9 in November 2008. Right now I weigh 177. I regained 5#/year and woke up this year flirting with 180.

    I want to add that In 1990, for my 50th birthday, I hiked the High Sierras in Yosemite proving to myself and others that being overweight did not preclude physical well being. From 1996 to 2006 I taught yoga, proving that being obese did not preclude participating in a practice that is often associated with skinny models and dancers.

    My point is that it is important to accept our bodies as they are, but it is equally important to live a healthy lifestyle and embrace the changes required to accomplish this.. - 3/8/2013 8:47:22 AM
    I'm printing this article off to carry with me through out the day.

    The Journal for compliments is an excellent idea; there's nothing so soul crushing as those times when I'm too exhausted to conjure up positivity and keep a proper perspective on how I really am doing taking care of myself. Being able to have something on hand will be a big benefit.

    I used to print off SparkFriends comments of encouragement and compliments and keep them in my bedside table to refresh that positivity as well. I think I will be returning to that practice.

    Thank you. - 3/8/2013 7:17:06 AM
  • thank you - 3/8/2013 6:16:10 AM
    Great read and it made me feel better. I think the jornal of complents is a great idea and I want to start making one.

    All my role models are people around me who live a health life style and their body image. - Your artical made me relize this is wrong role models such be for other things besides image but truth i dont know if that will ever change for me.

    thansk for posting
    - 11/29/2012 10:17:25 AM
  • You can't read a thing with all the commercials popping up one on top of the other. You try to dodge them and read but there are so many commercials that they take the enjoyment out of reading your great articles. I am not reading most of your articles because of the extreme proliferation of ads that track down even where you live so that they can promote their stuff. - 9/25/2012 7:14:19 AM
  • -BENI-
    I think if were all just - well - nicer. Period.
    Woman didn't look each other up and down, no jealousy, people didn't judge, or make comments.
    Mothers didn't tell us we aren't good enough or will amount to nothing, people thinking they are better than someone, name brands, status material things, bringing back morals, stop being so selfish, looked after each other, helped each other and like I said were just - well - nicer. We'd feel good about ourselves, take care of ourselves, and be nicer to others.
    Ever notice when you're having a good day and you are nice to someone - you feel better, better about yourself basically. You gave someone else a better day too, they feel good, and so on.
    ...if only. - 9/25/2012 7:11:36 AM
  • I am not American, but I believe it's the same all ove the West: statistically, when polled, 50% of girls and boys want to be president of the USA when they are 7. By the time they hit teenage years, a tiny percentage of girls want to be president. The media is designed to give girls poor self image and low self esteem, whilst boosting the self esteem of young men, young white males in particular. While men are also affected by the media, women and girls are much more so, and this goes beyond body image and into life expectations. We need to fight back, and we need to be especially clear with our daughters that it's all a lot of rubbish. It's incidious. As a result, we need articles like this to even begin to redress the balance. However, there are other ways to combat the situation. If you're interested, you might want to have a look at this:

    representatio - 9/25/2012 4:50:23 AM
  • As far as comparing ourselves to celebrities goes, here's a picture that will make us all feel a bit better, I think:

    thout-make-up.jpg - 6/30/2012 9:03:55 AM
  • These things are so important to remember! I didn't realize that my body image would change almost daily when trying to lose weight. I lost about 5 pounds, then found myself disgusted by this newly flabby skin hanging all over me. Apparently it's probably not good to look at yourself naked in the mirror when you're on the weight-loss journey - at least during times of transition. Now I let myself know that my appearance may change and I may need to go through awkward stages, but try to not get hung up on the current state and focus on all the other great things. - 6/26/2012 10:32:16 AM

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