What Is Body Image? Consequences of a Negative Body Image

Megan Smith
 min read

What is body image? How to explain it?

What Is Body Image? Consequences of a Negative Body ImageThere is a lot of juggling these days with terms like self-love, self-image, body image, self-esteem, and body positivity. And in all kinds of (social) media, we see the interest in the topic increasing over the years, which is something we can only welcome.

As a whole, body image is how we perceive ourselves physically. If positive, then it is easier to interact socially, and not fall prey to unreachable expectations. A negative body image makes life more difficult and usually stems from a past trauma and the consequences can be devastating.

But what exactly do these words mean? Don’t they all point to the same thing?

Below we look at what these terms mean and how they interact.

What is body image? Introduction and meaning of the various terms


Self-image is what you see and experience when you look at yourself and the image you build. Think about your dreams, your speech, your talents, your mental state, your relationships with others, your body, your muscles, your belly, and so on.

And how you look at this and to what extent you accept and value these elements is called self-esteem (important to feel good about yourself).

Body image

Body image is a part of self-image and expresses what you see when you scrutinize your body. How your hands move when you dance, the skin around your buttocks, the shape of your buttocks, the color of your eyes, the hair on your legs, and so on.

Individuals with a healthy body image have an objective and undisturbed view of their body and appearance. However, the search for so-called flaws and comparisons with others remains limited for these people.

This makes participating in social, sexual, and professional life more manageable. These people can also readily recognize unrealistic and unattainable ideals of beauty in the press and in (social) media and do not mirror them too strongly.


The term ‘self-esteem’ expresses the degree to which you appreciate and respect these features and outward appearances.

Its formation begins in childhood and develops and changes throughout life, under the influence of culture, the environment, and the media, among other things.

Body appreciation is not a static state and frequently changes throughout life.


Self-love is the acceptance of who you are and what your appearance is.

In other words, you consider yourself a wonderful gift.

You consider your body a machine and a companion that helps you thoroughly enjoy life.

You listen to your body, and you treat it with respect. You treat your body as your life and a trustworthy partner for whom you would do anything.

Self-image versus body-image

Self-image and body image are interrelated but not necessarily concurrent.

Everything depends on how much you value the parts of your person and personality.

Example 1

For example, you may need to develop broad scientific knowledge or be socially and civically engaged. And in this process, what is thought about your body, or how do you experience it yourself.

And because your personal focus is not on your body, your body appreciation will not have an immense impact on how you feel as a complete person. In other words, your body image will not lower your self-image in that case.

Example 2

You can be delighted with your body (because you are in shape and don’t have a beer belly) but still, have a low self-image at the same time.

This is the case; for example, if you are not valued by your partner or at work and over time, you begin to doubt yourself.

In such a scenario, your body image will not increase your self-image.

Body care and body image

Just because someone appreciates and values their body does not mean it is always well taken care of.

Think of the countless workaholics who work extremely hard and do violence to their bodies by simply not taking enough rest periods.

Yet there is a clear intersection between body care and body image.

In fact, it is more likely that someone with a negative body image will not take as much care of their body. Conversely, those with a positive body image will actually do that. But beware because this is not always the case in practice.

In any case, body image is very central to the lives of growing and adult people. And it affects the physical, psychological and sexual experience.

And if this body image and the body appreciation associated with it is not right, it can cause difficulties.

Negative body image: Signs, symptoms and consequences

Signs and symptoms of negative self-image

  • You are very sensitive to other people’s opinions and comments.
  • Experiencing more mental health problems than the average person (often requiring consultation with a doctor).
  • Avoiding mirrors and possibly even obsessively knocking down your reflection continuously and regularly.
  • You experience difficulty enjoying the here and now.
  • Increased absence from work due to illness.
  • You are oversensitive when it comes to dealing with others, and because of this, you often misinterpret certain signals very quickly.
  • Usually tend to compare yourself to others.
  • You experience difficulty in receiving compliments or praise.
  • Physical problems regularly crop up.
  • You are jealous of the bodies of famous people or of friends/friends. You even note that you sometimes criticize it (inside or out loud).

Consequences of a negative self-image

Our self-image and body image are subject to many small and large influences, and some people are more susceptible and susceptible to them than others.

The consequences can be far-reaching and take place on an emotional and behavioral level.

For example, low body esteem is often associated with early learning difficulties, aggressive behavior, depression, and identity confusion.

People with a negative body image often feel restless and confused towards themselves and those around them.

And these individuals also often experience more significant difficulties when they have to solve problems and conflicts.

What is body image? Conclusion

When we don’t feel good about ourselves, we sometimes dare to approach and evaluate ourselves very critically and harshly (which is behavior that we must unlearn).

But what does this actually bring? Indeed, it only makes things worse.

It is essential to be a little more gentle in and with life.

So if you don’t set the bar to extremes, this will make you feel satisfied a little faster, and that’s what you need to feel happier and develop a more positive body image and self-image!

About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded Plus Size Zeal to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More