Body image is the internalized sense of what we look like to others. It is common to sometimes feel negatively about our bodies, but when these feelings negatively affect self-esteem, relationships with others, and health functioning, professional help is recommended.
Negative body image may contribute to the desire to change eating behavior. Changes to our eating habits or attempts to “make up for” food eaten can result in disordered eating behaviors and/or the development of an eating disorder. It should be noted that disordered eating occurs for many reasons and negative body image is only one of them.
Many college students engage in disordered eating patterns, yet it is rarely discussed among students. Certain disordered behaviors around eating, food, and body image (e.g. dieting, fasting before a big night out) are normalized in society, often making it difficult to recognize when there is a problem. In other words, many habits that most people consider normal are actually symptoms of disordered eating. Even when disordered behaviors are not severe enough to be labeled an “eating disorder,” they are still serious and have the potential to be very harmful.
If you recognize some of these signs in yourself, talking to someone about it can prevent more severe problems from forming. Please see the Services section for more information on how you can obtain professional assistance.
If you are concerned about your eating or exercise behaviors or having difficulty with your body image, you can schedule an intake appointment at the Counseling Center to discuss the nature of these concerns. Depending on the nature and severity of your concerns one (or more) of several options may be considered:
National Eating Disorders Association
Support for individuals and families affected by eating disorders
10 Steps to Positive Body Image
Healthier ways of looking at yourself and your body
10 “Will Powers” for Improving Body Image
Steps for developing and maintaining positive body image
Self-Esteem Tips: Dealing with Body Image
5 tips for quieting troubling thoughts about your body
A comprehensive list of books related to eating and body image concerns for professionals and for self-help
Health at Every Size
A community of inclusive support for individuals of every size and shape
Information and resources from the body positive movement
Eating Disorder Hope
Education, support, and inspiration for those suffering from eating disorders
Binge Eating Disorder Association
Information and support for individuals who struggle with Binge Eating Disorder
Support for Males with Eating Disorders
Specific resources for boys and men who experience disordered eating and body image
The Renfrew Center’s webpage of resources for those who are struggling or know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder