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So many of us struggle with body image. If this sounds like you or someone you know, then check out these helpful tips from Melbourne-based APD, Nicole Kopel, which can help you adjust your thinking and embrace a positive attitude towards your gorgeous self!

Body image is how we think and feel about our body. It is a perception of how we view our physical self, and does not always represent how we actually look.

Body dissatisfaction and dieting behaviour are closely linked, and dieting is a major risk factor for developing an eating disorder. People who are dissatisfied with their body may spend lots of time and energy worrying about and trying to change their appearance. This leaves little time to enjoy and appreciate other aspects in life, like spending time with family at the beach, going on a special holiday, or enjoying social events. They may also hold off doing things until they reach a certain weight, or have achieved a certain appearance related goal.

A person’s body image can be shaped by a number of factors. Society’s perception of an ideal body or beauty ideal has a large role to play, and this changes throughout time. For example, what was viewed as a perfect body in the 1950s is very different to what was viewed as a perfect body in the 1970s, and again now in 2016. 

These days, it is impossible to escape the images we see in advertisements, television, movies, magazines and social media, telling us we need to look a certain way to achieve happiness, respect or success. Sneakily, there is an enormous amount of airbrushing, makeup and special effects that go in to creating these images. So much of our physical appearance is determined by genetics, that these images are unattainable in reality for the general population.

If you are struggling with your relationship with your body, and are ready to try to cultivate a more positive body image, the following tips may help: 

1.     Become media savvy. Remember that the images we see in the media are not realistic. Advertisements do this to make you want to achieve a certain standard of appearance, and therefore buy their product! Unfollow or unlike any pages on Facebook, Instagram or other social media which bombard your feeds with images of unattainable and unrealistic standards, and which place too much importance on appearance. They are often the ones constantly posting images (usually selfies!) along with the hashtags #fitspo and #fitspiration.

2.     Practice more self compassion and kindness. Changing the way you talk about your own and other people’s physiques can help foster a more positive body image in yourself. What would you say to your friend if they were talking negatively about their body? Treat yourself as you would your best friend.

3.     Is your body image weight related? Try and shift your focus away from weight. What is it that you are hoping to achieve by losing weight? Are you able to find other strategies to achieve these goals? The appearance of your body is not an indication of your health, your ability to show care and appreciation for yourself and others, or your ability to achieve life goals. 

4.     Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in. This may mean shopping for new items and throwing away or donating the items that don’t fit or make you feel good while you’re wearing them.

Improving your body image does not have to be about absolutely loving and feeling amazing in your body (but if that happens, then wonderful!). Instead, it’s about moving from a place of body dissatisfaction or loathing, to a place of acceptance and appreciation for what your body is, what it has achieved and what it can do.



Useful Links and references

Nicole Kopel, APD

Nicole is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and founder of nutrition consultancy Eat in Peace located in Melbourne (www.eatinpeace.com.au). Her professional interests are nutrition counselling for eating disorders and disordered eating and assisting people to reach optimal health through letting go of dieting using the Non-Diet Approach to health and wellbeing. 


Tracey Emney: Founder and CEO n4 food and health

Gorgeous Self - love it!

Great reminders Nicole, especially with two young girls myself it's easy to forget the role the media plays in influencing beliefs in innocent minds. Thanks for sharing.
By: Tracey Emney: Founder and CEO n4 food and health
Posted on: 2016-03-09 18:59:08
Nicole Kopel
Dietitian, Nutritionist