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Body Image

Body image is a complicated construct that includes both physical and emotional components. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, body image involves how we picture ourselves in our minds or what we see when we look in a mirror; what we believe or remember about our appearance; how we feel when we think of our weight, height, and shape; and how we sense our bodies as we move.

People with a positive body image feel comfortable with their appearance and see their bodies realistically. A negative body image can lead to a variety of outcomes, including low self-esteem, unhealthy eating habits, anxiety, depression, and general emotional distress.

Issues with body image are not limited to a single group or age but may be experienced by men, women, adolescents, older adults, and victims of accidents or image-altering wounds or diseases. The references listed below are helpful in understanding this complex issue.

Internet Resources

Body Image: Loving Yourself Inside and Out
Site from the National Women’s Health Information Center defines body image and provides concrete steps for developing a positive perception of oneself.

National Eating Disorders Association
Offers wealth of information to help users understand body image issues. Includes videos, a toll-free hotline, and a special section on enhancing male body image.

Cleveland Clinic: Fostering a Positive Self-Image
Helpful resource outlines specific steps anyone can take to develop a positive body image.

TeensHealth: Body Image and Self-Esteem
Speaks directly to teens and encourages positive perceptions of one’s body.

TeensHealth: Guy’s Guide to Body Image
Young men are at as great a risk as young women for developing issues with their body image. This site encourages positive perceptions.

Amputee Coalition of America: “Altered States: Our Body Image, Relationships, and Sexuality”
Excellent overview of adaptation to amputation in terms of body image. Also available in easy-to-read version.


  • About face: women write about what they see when they look in the mirror. Burt A, ed. 2008.
  • Body drama: real girls, real bodies, real issues, real answers. Redd NA. 2008.
  • Body image: understanding body dissatisfaction in men, women, and children. Grogan S. 2008.
  • Feeling good about the way you look: a program for overcoming body image problems. Wilhelm S. 2006.
  • Full of ourselves: a wellness program to advance girl power, health, and leadership. Steiner-Adair C. 2006.
  • Hungry for more: a keeping-it-real guide for Black women on weight and body image. McGee R. 2005.
  • So sexy so soon: the new sexualized childhood, and what parents can do to protect their kids. Lvin DE. 2008.
  • Virtual Library from Gale is available at  http://www.nmh.org/nm/health library virtual library . Search “body image” to find a wealth of information.

Journal Articles

  • “Your older body, yourself: self-acceptance, wrinkles and all.” Mayo Clinic Women’s Healthsource. 13(10):7. Oct. 2009.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Alberto Culver Health Learning Center at 312-926-5465, or e-mail us at HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateNovember 2, 2012