Body Image and Self-esteem
What Are Body Image and Self-esteem?
Body image is the picture that you have of your physical appearance in your mind. Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself as a person. They both include positive and negative feelings and can be influenced by society, cultural background, and life experiences. Body image and selfesteem are connected, because the way that you feel about your body can affect the way you feel about yourself as a whole.
As parents and caregivers, your children look to you for guidance and support, and they want to hear what you have to say. Talk with your children about body image and selfesteem, give them age-appropriate positive messages that will help them feel better about themselves. Discuss that every individual is unique, that there are behaviors related to body image that are healthy and unhealthy, and that the ways in which the media portrays body image can be unrealistic in real life. Most importantly, help them celebrate and appreciate the person that they are and all they have to offer.
Body Image Inventory
As you think about the messages that you want to share with your children about body image and self-esteem, it’s helpful to
get in touch with your feelings about your body and the messages that you learned growing up. As you answer these questions, make a mental note of any negative thought patterns you may have.
- What’s the first positive message that you remember receiving about your body? Negative message? How old were you? How have these messages impacted you?
- What messages do you wish you received about body image and selfesteem as you were growing up?
- What do you like best about your body?
- What about your body, if anything, do you compare to an “ideal” that the media portrays? Do you find yourself trying to alter your body to meet this ideal? If so, how?
- What are your thoughts about dieting, eating, exercising, or having plastic surgery? How do these thoughts influence your behaviors and your own body image? In what ways do you express these thoughts to others?
Think about your answers to the questions, considering the verbal and non-verbal messages about body image and self-esteem that you give your children. Are these the messages that you want to be giving to your kids? If not, what are the messages about body image and self-esteem that you want to share with your kids?
Reprinted with the permission of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. © 2005 SIECUS.
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