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Body image - let's get real

body; image; diet; dieting; food; eating; self; esteem; fashion; exercise; looks; weight; gym; workout; acne; obesity; fat; thin;

Body image is really about three things.

  1. How you see yourself.
  2. How you think you ought to look.
  3. How you wish to be seen by others.


How you see yourself

You would think that how you see yourself would be totally up to you. Wrong!

  • Many people are really influenced by the media, fashion, sports stars, peer groups, their family, advertising and magazines for both men and women.
  • So they compare themselves with all the glossy air brushed pictures, films and video clips using special photo techniques and make up, etc. - and who can compare favourably with that?
  • Not even the heroes, idols and film stars can! They certainly don't look that good in 'real life', as we can all tell when we see the sort of pictures taken when the 'stars' don't know about it!

How you think you ought to look

  • Everyone has an image of how they would like to look. Taller, slimmer, more muscles, longer legs - the list goes on.
  • The media often creates unrealistic images that people try to live up to. Check out this video on youtube: Dove's Evolution. It shows just how much fashion magazines change or 'airbrush' models' photos. No wonder people feel they don't match up - not even the models do!

Let's get real

There are three things that contribute to your body image.

  1. Your genes that determined your height and basic shape, skin colour, type of hair - some things that you cannot do anything about.
  2. How you look after your body - this is something you can do something about by:
    • eating healthy food
    • exercising
    • working on feeling good about yourself.
  3. Making the most of yourself.

Feeling good about yourself

Everyone wants to look and feel good about him or herself. So if you are not too happy about yourself, think about your image and how you can improve it. You can always improve without going to the lengths (and expenses) of plastic surgery!

  • Are you an active person? Do you exercise every day? (Even walking to work or round the shops is exercise.)
  • Do you take care with personal hygiene?
    • Is your hair neat and clean?
    • Do you have clean hands and fingernails?
    • Are your shoes clean and not smelly?
    • Are your clothes clean?
  • Do your clothes fit you or do you look like you are drowning in them or trying to escape from them?!
  • Do you eat the right kind of foods?
  • Do you smile at people and make positive comments?
  • Are you resilient? Can you bounce back when things go wrong?
  • Do you join in games, conversations and activities?
  • Do you keep up with study or work, apart from the odd 'slack attack'?
  • Do you get enthusiastic about things?
  • Do you work at having and keeping friends?

Feeling good about yourself is something you can do something about.
If you do all of these things, you will have a healthy active life and look great at the same time, even if you don't have huge muscles or great pecs or bigger boobs or longer legs or … whatever your current 'if only' is!


Do you watch the 'makeover' programs on TV? I'm not talking about the extreme stuff where plastic surgery is involved! Some of these programs can really give you some good ideas on how to make the most of yourself.

  • Skin care
  • Hair colour and style
  • Clothes to make the most of your best features
  • Getting a wardrobe together that works
  • Organising your stuff
  • How to become more interesting
  • What to do with your spare time
  • Meeting and making friends.

Wouldn't you just love to be the person getting that sort of makeover?

However, you can still look at magazines, look at internet sites, read articles, borrow self-help books from the library and then go for the makeover yourself.

  • Save up for a really great haircut (this does not have to be really expensive - if any of your friends have had a great haircut, ask them who did it, and see if you can afford to go to that person). Have a chat with the stylist to decide what is going to be most flattering to your face and easier to manage.
  • Take a really clothes-conscious friend with you to try on all the clothes in the shopping centre and come up with a new mix and match outfit that will take you through the next season.
  • Start exercising, walk with a friend, take up sport, join a team or walk to work.

Other things to think about

  • See a doctor or health care professional if you are having problems with your skin, like acne. There are so many products around to sort that out, that you need to talk with someone who knows which one might work for you.
  • Start something new - take up painting, join a club at school, get involved as a volunteer.
  • Girls, have a regular girls' night where you try make-up, hair styles, massage, mud packs, each other's clothes, etc. and just have fun learning new techniques to make the most of your appearance.
  • Guys, this could work for you too! Lots more guys are getting interested in improving their appearance and it could be fun! Of course you could all get together to watch a game on TV or even a 'makeover show' and the other stuff might just 'come up'!
  • Is your room still the same as it has been for years? Can you change it, change the colour scheme, maybe change or paint furniture, have a clean out and reorganise to reflect the new and evolving you?
  • You don't need to have loads of money, or be the 'victim' on reality TV, to start looking at your body image and working out how to improve it so that you feel happy with yourself and the way you look.

Remember that body image is about being happy with yourself, not trying to be what someone else thinks everyone should look like.


Have you heard about BMI - Body Mass Index? This is a guide to work out whether or not you might be overweight or underweight for your age and height.

If you would like to work out your BMI, this can help you.

What do you think now?


South Australia


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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor or other health professional.
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