Coping With Body Image Issues In The Modern World

Updated April 1, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Body image issues in the modern world have become incredibly common. Opening a discussion about body image can be vital to working on the problem and helping millions of people feel more comfortable, confident, and happy in their own skin. 

This article can offer help for managing body image issues healthily and effectively.

What Is Body Image?

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Do You Want Help With Your Body Image?

While a focus on outward appearance has existed for a long time, the rise of our exposure to media has brought an increase in awareness of our own physical appearance. The relationship between body image and the media become more controversial, and its narrow representation of beauty often excludes individuals who do not conform to the ideal body type, causing harm to their body image. Younger individuals typically experience some of the most challenging body image issues, but even older people face issues with their physical appearance. 

A negative body image isn’t an uncommon thing, but it can still be quite unpleasant to deal with. However, there are still things that you can do to overcome a negative body image. 

Body image is how you see your physical appearance and how you believe that others perceive your physical appearance. It relates to how you feel about your appearance, your beliefs about how you look, and how you think that your body compares to other people’s bodies. Your body image can even relate to how you feel in your body (such as whether or not you feel confident and comfortable using your body to do different activities such as sports or daily chores).

Ways To Help Improve Body Image

Avoid Looking At Popular Media Images

Many of the pictures of bodies that you see in popular media are commonly “fake,” meaning that they’ve been heavily edited, altered, or otherwise changed in some way. Even images that you see in movies or videos can be edited (and often are edited) with today’s technology. Most of the alterations made to these images can offer unrealistic expectations of how the human body should look; this is true for both males and females since the media produces unrealistic images of both men and women. Frequently, the media can be a huge source of fuel for developing and perpetuating a person’s negative body image.

Instead of buying popular magazines or watching popular, modern films where you might encounter unrealistic body images, try exploring art, underground media and news, and indie films for more realistic images. By exploring these types of genres and media, you may find more relatable images that can help you feel more comfortable in your skin and realize that you’re not alone in feeling like you don’t always measure up to the edited portrayals. 

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Think About What You Do Like About Yourself 

People who have a negative body image sometimes might find it difficult to find positive things about their bodies (or themselves in general). Instead of observing the things you don’t like about yourself, try to notice the things you do like! Start small and keep going from there. Maybe you really like your toes or a particular birthmark, or you may feel like you look great in a particular outfit. Or perhaps you like the sound of your laugh or your exceptional baking ability. The things that you notice about yourself that you like don’t have to be physical. After all, physical appearance is only one small part of what makes you, you!

Talk With Someone You Trust About Your Body Image Issues 

Being open about your body image issues with a trusted friend, a parent, sibling, another family, or a therapist can be an excellent way to start resolving any issues you feel around your body image. 

By talking with the people who care about you, you might get valuable input not only about the good things about your appearance but also about who you are as a person. You might be surprised to find that your friends and family have the same exact feelings and sentiments you’re experiencing.  Having a real conversation about what you’re feeling can be an impactful step toward recovery.

Notice The Nice Things People Say About You 

When you’re talking to people or interacting with others, tune into the nice things that people say about you and believe them. Paying attention to how other people see you can help you see yourself more clearly. Remember, though, there will be times when people will say negative things too. That’s why it can be crucial to learn to love yourself! Try to surround yourself as much as possible with positive, friendly people who will boost your confidence and be supportive. 

To help yourself remember all the numerous things that people say to you or about you, consider keeping a journal so that you can remind yourself of these kind words on the days when you’re feeling discouraged or for times when you receive any negative input.

To reverse this technique, notice nice things about other people and let them know about it (if it feels appropriate)! For example, make a note of your friend’s great haircut or your mom’s smile, or maybe tell your brother that you love his new shoes. When you turn your energy toward noticing the positive things in other people, you’re also turning your energy toward seeing the positive things in yourself. You never know what other people are going through, and the little kindnesses can be some of the most essential ones. When you put out positive energy, you’re more likely to receive positive energy in return.

Use Positive Self-Talk

One of the distinctive aspects of a negative body image is often a pattern of negative self-talk. Self-talk can be described as the conversations we have with ourselves and the things we say to ourselves in our minds. 

Negative self-talk about your body can be challenging to stop, but active attention to practicing positive self-talk will often, over time, counteract the negative. At first, you might not notice your negative self-talk; keep a journal or talk to someone you trust about your internal thoughts and conversations so that you can see or hear your thoughts out loud (or on paper). This way, you can notice negative patterns more quickly, and you can start the process of replacing the negative comments with positive or balanced comments instead.Article Visual

Do You Want Help With Your Body Image?

Help And Resources For Body Image Issues

Complimenting other people or saying nice things to yourself (about yourself) can help reinforce a new pattern of positive self-talk. 

There are support groups available to encourage more positive thought patterns and encourage a more positive body image in individuals who have trouble with their body image. Changing your thinking can be one of the most difficult things to do, but it can also be one of the most rewarding goals, and it can produce some of the most profound and joyful outcomes! Even if you feel discouraged at times, keep going, and ask for help and support when you need it. Your friends and family can help you in keeping yourself accountable and keep in check when those negative thoughts begin to arise in your head. 

A negative body image can be extremely toxic, and many people have difficulties resolving it. Getting help from a therapist or psychologist can make a huge difference! There’s no shame in reaching out for advice and guidance with resolving a negative body image issue. Most people have trouble with their body image from time to time and can relate to what you’re going through.

It can be essential to get help right away if you have an eating disorder associated with a negative body image or suspect that your ideas about body image could later become an eating disorder. When left untreated, eating disorders can cause serious health repercussions down the road and lead to various other kinds of issues. Communicate right away with someone you trust or with a healthcare professional if you notice signs of an eating disorder in your behaviors. Click here to learn more about the National Eating Disorder Association Helpline, or contact them by dialing 1-800-931-2237. Help is available Monday through Thursday 9 AM to 9 PM EST and Friday 9 AM to 5 PM EST. 


If you’re noticing symptoms of body image issues, don’t be afraid to reach out to a licensed professional. At BetterHelp, our therapists are dedicated to helping people overcome all kinds of difficulties, including body image issues and eating disorders. Contact us today to set up your first appointment!

Therapists often use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help people with disordered eating or people with negative self-talk and thought patterns. CBT is designed to identify thought patterns that are not helping you or that are negatively affecting your words, actions, and outlook. After identifying those thought patterns, a certified professional will then help you change them. The idea is that your thoughts impact your words and your actions, and thoughts are simply habits that can be changed.

Studies show that online CBT is just as effective as in-person CBT in changing negative thought patterns and helping people get out of harmful thought spirals. That means by reaching out to an online therapist at BetterHelp, you can get proven help from a licensed therapist. And if you’re worried about talking your personal experiences with a therapist, remember that online therapy is discreet and comfortable. In fact, people often tell that they feel they can express more over online mediums than they can with an in-person therapist. 

Mental health treatment for body dysmorphic disorder is becoming increasingly available and shows success in treating the condition.

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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