How to Overcome a Negative Body Image

Posted: March 03, 2022 | Author: Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 5 minutes

overcome negative body imageIn a world where so many compare themselves to others, recognizing personal worth and achievements is often measured on a scale based on society’s view of perfection. Beauty standards have been a societal norm since humans first invented the word “beautiful.” This goes to include not just weight or size, but skin texture, ability, facial features, hair, height, and anything that society seems to have an unsolicited opinion on. While this view has been proven to be skewed and warped into impossibly high standards, there are effective ways to overcome a negative body image.

By focusing more on all the things your body is capable of doing–like eating your favorite foods, experiencing the world through your senses, and loving the people in your life who are closest to you, you will have a better chance of discovering your worth and that it’s much more than fitting society’s standard.

6 Ways to Overcome a Negative Body Image

Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

Who cares what a magazine has to say about your appearance? The only person who can determine your worth is you. Pay attention to the self-talk you give your reflection in the mirror every morning. Mantras, good or bad, can easily blossom or fester. A great place to start is to become aware of what you let take root in your internal monologue. Once you’re aware, start challenging any negative self-talk that you may have.

Focus On The Positive

Start by writing down things your body does or allows you to do that you’re grateful for in a journal. Take time to look inward and identify non-physical characteristics about yourself that you like. You can even put an empowering spin on negative thoughts and think about how you can learn to accept your not-so-favorite parts of yourself. Another effective method is to repeat affirmations either in the mirror or simply to yourself. You can find plenty of positive affirmations online that can help you recognize the good about yourself. During this process, it’s important to go easy on yourself–no one is perfect.

Show Your Body Love

Every body is different, and so are every body’s needs. Implementing a routine is important to keep your body healthy rather than skinny. Figure out what healthy looks like for you and implement that routine to show your body you care about it. Get enough sleep, drink lots of water, do the things you love, and be sure to show other people love for their efforts too! Try to implement saying three nice things about yourself for every negative thing you say, and encourage others to do the same. You’ll be astonished how spreading love can help everyone reach acceptance and self-love.

Love What Your Body Does More Than How It Looks

People often criticize or try to change their appearance due to an underlying motive, the most common being control. Having control over your appearance while so many things are out of your control can represent comfort for some people. When their appearance doesn’t reflect that, people can become obsessed with changing their appearance until it matches how they want to feel. You can adjust this internal narrative by asking yourself a few questions; What does your body allow you to do? Feel the wind on your face? Smell freshly baked cookies, and better yet, eat them? Hug the people you love? Your body is a pretty amazing tool that lets you live your life. Glennon Doyle Melton said, “Your body is your paintbrush, not your art.” Let your body help you to create a life where you feel fulfilled.

Challenge Comparison And Media Portrayals

Most people in the world spend too much precious time wanting to be just like everyone else. Your metabolism may not be as fast as your friend’s, but your hair may be curlier than theirs. Embrace what’s different about you and be a trendsetter! Being different gives others the courage to accept their differences. And remember; almost every image in your fashion magazine or your gym magazine has been touched up and altered. Don’t unfairly compare yourself to that. Rather, expose yourself to body-neutral social media; the more you surround yourself with positivity online and in real life, the more likely you are to see the similarities between you and people with similar body types.

Set Healthy Boundaries

If it’s your desire to alter your appearance, do so in a healthy way. Ditch the diets and the plastic surgery; focus on what will make you feel good. Don’t pay attention to what a scale says; numbers don’t define you. Approach exercise with a positive outlook, more as a fun activity versus a means to an end. There are plenty of fun exercises you can try beyond lifting weights. Boundaries also include more than the physical kind; if someone is talking badly about their physical appearance and it’s making you uncomfortable, let them know. Another boundary is unfollowing social media accounts that encourage you to feel insecure about your body, or that focus heavily on changing your physical appearance. Who cares what a stranger on the internet is telling you what to do with your body? Shoot for ethical follows.


Getting out of the negative mindset is the big kicker when it comes to overcoming body image issues. Remember, the natural way your body looks is the real way a body looks. Instead of paying attention to Photoshop in the media, crop out all the thoughts holding you back from embracing what makes you different! If you are having trouble coming up with ideas on how to get active around campus, check out the events calendar for any outdoor or campus-based activities. There are also gyms available to students nearby and on campus for those who enjoy the gym atmosphere. For anyone struggling with a more severe body image problem or body dysmorphia, reach out to the CAPS office.

Tags: Mental Health Student Life CAPS

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