Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Body image

2-minute read

Body image refers to the way you see your physical self - your body - and the thoughts and feelings that are caused by the way you see it.

Having a healthy body image means being comfortable and knowing that there is more to you than just your physical appearance. Conversely, having an unhealthy body image involves always thinking your body is unattractive. Sometimes, it can also make a person forget that they have value beyond what they look like.

Why is negative body image an issue?

If you have a negative body image, you might:

  • think you look too fat
  • feel like you're not pretty or muscular enough
  • believe your value as a person is determined by your looks
  • be fixated on trying to change your body shape.

Having a sustained unhealthy body image can be associated with illnesses that affect the mind and body such as body dysmorphic disorder, anorexia nervosa and binge eating. It's beneficial to be aware of negative body image and actively attempt to develop a healthier body image.

How to improve your body image

Having an unhealthy body image is bad for general wellbeing and can be time consuming. Below are a few tips for improving your body image:

  1. Question media images - we are bombarded with images of unrealistic and unobtainable bodies; try not to compare yourself with them and remember that often what you see on TV and online are not true depictions of real people.
  2. Avoid any media, social media or websites that make you feel bad or suggest you need to change the way you look.
  3. Focus on the positive things your body can do.
  4. Look for similarities between your body and the bodies of other members of your family.
  5. Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable.
  6. Try positive self talk.
  7. Avoid being critical of other people's bodies - negative attitudes are contagious.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Body Image

How youseeyour body is your perceptual body image

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

Body Image | The Butterfly Foundation

What is Body Image?

Read more on Butterfly Foundation website

Understanding body image | Body image | ReachOut Australia

Body image - everyone has it, but what does it mean? Healthy body image is when you feel relaxed and good about your body.

Read more on website

Guys and body image | Body image | ReachOut Australia

Although girls and women stereotypically experience body image issues, its becoming increasingly common among guys.

Read more on website

Teenage body image | Raising Children Network

Positive teen body image and healthy self-esteem go together. Heres how to help your child develop healthy body image, plus signs of unhealthy body image.

Read more on website

Low self-esteem and body image

Body image can play a big role in developing an eating disorder. Taking action about eating disorders. Recovering from eating disorders.

Read more on beyondblue website

Body Image TINO : Tune In Not Out

Body image is a key concern for young people. It's about how you see, think and feel about your body

Read more on Tune In Not Out website

Building positive body image in kids

It's important to teach kids to feel good about their bodies. If they have a positive body image, they'll have greater self-esteem and are more likely to have a healthy outlook on life. Learn more here.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Body image and diets - Better Health Channel

Some people diet because they have a poor body image, not because they want to be a healthy weight.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Body image & teens: how parents can help | Raising Children Network

Parents play a big role in fostering healthy body image for teenagers. This video demonstrates a positive approach to teenage body image for parents.

Read more on website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo