It’s the way we perceive our bodies, and the way we assume others perceive us. And it’s the thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs we have about our bodies as a result.
The key word here is perceive. Body image is not based on fact.
It is learned.
Learned from our society’s manufactured and constantly changing ideals of beauty, health and fitness. Learned from relatives, friends and other people in our lives. Learned from the cultures and environments we have been exposed to.
Body image is a huge topic. Before listing 20 of my favourite signs that your body image is on the mend, I want to disclose that I am a cis-het biracial woman with thin privilege. This article is geared towards women in particular, because that is my lived experience. I can’t begin to imagine how many more magnitudes of difficulty are involved in body image work for those who are not gender conforming, are BIPOC, and/or live in a larger body, an older body, or a disabled body.
I believe that we all deserve to accept, respect, appreciate and enjoy our bodies and all that they do for us - regardless of size, weight, shape, colour, race, ability, and gender.
I also recognise that developing more body satisfaction, confidence, love, acceptance, or even body neutrality will look and feel different for everyone.
And that this can be fucking hard work.