Body image and self-esteem
Your self-esteem has a direct effect on how you take care of yourself, emotionally, physically and spiritually.1
What is self-esteem?2
- Self-esteem is the image you have of yourself measured against what you think you should be in terms of your talents, skills, intellect, social skills, physical abilities and appearance.
- Low self-esteem results when you do not measure up to the expectations you have for yourself.
- High self-esteem results when you do measure up to the expectations you have for yourself.
Children and self-esteem:
- Self-esteem begins to develop early in life through family relationships and relationships with other important people in our lives.3 The quality of these relationships has a strong effect on the development of self-esteem.4
- It is normal for levels of self-esteem to change throughout different stages of your life. Most people will experience very low levels of self-esteem in their teen years.2
- It has been shown that parents have the most influence on an adolescent’s feeling of themselves.5 Help your children build positive self-esteem by being a positive role model.
What is body image?2
- Body image is a part of your self-esteem.
- It is your perception of your body size, shape, and attractiveness.
- It also includes your attitudes and feelings about your body and how you think others see you.
Someone with a healthy body image feels good in their skin and feels good about their body. They do not strive for a ‘perfect’ body but focus on their other attributes and abilities in order to feel good about themselves. It is common for people, especially teens, to experience body image dissatisfaction, which is often driven by dangerous and unrealistic cultural ideas of slimness.
Having a poor body image is highly related to low self-esteem and, in some situations, can lead to disordered eating behaviours. Weight-loss practices can have a negative effect on mental and emotional well-being and, in more extreme situations, can lead to nutritional deficiencies or harm physical development.6
Reach for your best
At the Health Unit, we encourage individuals to reach for their best by focusing on health, well-being and fun instead of on body measurements or weight. Think of changes you can make to behaviours and environments that will help you (or those around you) to eat well, get moving, get enough sleep, and feel good about yourself. This will help foster a healthy self-esteem and body image. Caring adults also play an important role in helping children grow up happy and healthy. Learn some practical tips to help kids reach for their best!
- NEDIC (2014). Body Image & Self Esteem. Retrieved from http://nedic.ca/know-facts/body-image-self-esteem on August 8, 2014
- Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health. (2012).What is Self-esteem?[Factsheet]
- The Body Image Coalition of Peel. (2004). Every body is a somebody: An active learning program to promote healthy body image, positive self-esteem, healthy eating and an active lifestyle for female adolescents. Veracity Design.
- Walker, L. & Greene, J. (1986). The social context of adolescent self-esteem. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 15(4).
- Owens, M., Scofield, B., & Taylor, C. (2003). Incorporating mother-daughter groups within clinical settings to increase adolescent female’s self-esteem. Journal of Family Issues, 24(7), 895-907.
- Public Health Agency of Canada (2012). Healthy Living and Healthy Weight in Healthy Settings for Young People in Canada. Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/dca-dea/publications/yjc/ch3_51_54-eng.php on August 8, 2014.
This item was last modified on April 12, 2017