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Effects of body image on mental health

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What is body image?

Body image is how we think and feel about ourselves physically, and how we believe others see us. Body image is not just about our weight, it can also be things like:
• Comparing how you look with people you follow on social media
• Struggling to love and accept your body
• Feeling as though your body shape is not represented in the media
• Hiding your body because you feel ashamed by it
• Struggling to find clothes for your body

How can body image affect my mental health?

With a poor body image, you may find everyday tasks like eating, getting dressed or going out with friends becoming more difficult. This can be at any point in your life or continuously throughout your life, and it can lead to feelings of:
• Low self-esteem
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Isolation and loneliness
• Eating problems
• Obsessing over how you look

What to do if you are worried about how you look

• Remember that there isn't a single type of beauty and there isn't a right or wrong way to look
• Be kind to yourself and try not to compare yourself to others
• Notice how social media is affecting the way you view your body
• Focus on the good things
• Spend time with people who make you feel positive about yourself
• Think about the advice you would give a friend if they told you they were struggling
• Talk to someone you trust

Body positivity

Body positivity is a movement to accept all bodies no matter what type, shape or size. If you are struggling with your body image, body positivity can help you feel better about yourself. By thinking positively about how you look, you can feel more comfortable and confident.
Changing the way we think about our body and how we look can take time - it can feel difficult on some days and that's okay. Accepting your body is a process.

Supporting a friend struggling with body image

• Talk to them and encourage them to focus on what they like about themselves and what they can do - not just how they look
• Write down all their good points as a list together
• Sit with your friend in front of a mirror and together, thank your body for all the positive things it does
• Support your friend to have a positive online space
• If you feel that they are overwhelmed, encourage them to seek professional help

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