Positive sense of self
Children and young people with a positive body image might not necessarily be satisfied with their appearance, but their self-worth is not defined nor determined by the size, shape or appearance of their body.
Instead, they concentrate on their personal strengths and qualities that are not appearance-based. This way of thinking supports healthy self-esteem and healthy lifestyle behaviours.
Negative thoughts can lead to increased vulnerability
It’s common for people of all genders, ages, ethnicities, abilities, body sizes and shapes to have negative thoughts and feelings about their appearance or be dissatisfied with the way their bodies look. Children and young people experiencing poor body image are more vulnerable to developing unhealthy behaviours associated with food and exercise.
Learn more in the Be You Fact Sheets about how learning communities can promote positive body image and understanding disordered eating.
Friendships are very important during school years and peer relationships can have a strong influence on how children and young people feel about their bodies.
Body comparisons with friends and peers are natural and normal - but if a child or young person does this frequently it can affect the way they feel about their body, particularly if they are comparing their body or appearance in a negative way. Conversations that children and young people have about appearance with their friends can also affect their body image.
Peer groups can be a source of mixed messaging
Peers can sometimes normalise and reinforce unhelpful appearance ideals and behaviours, which may contribute to body dissatisfaction in children and young people. For instance, peer groups might influence trends around fashion, eating, exercise and social behaviours that have been inspired by celebrities, sports stars and social media influencers.
Peers may also use unhelpful language and dialogue about their bodies, appearance and dieting, which can reinforce unrealistic appearance ideals. This can place vulnerable individuals at risk of experiencing body dissatisfaction and other mental health concerns.
Be You Professional Learning
Find out more about the benefits of children and young people maintaining positive and respectful relationships with peers in the Connect module.
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Body image is the term used to describe the thoughts, feelings and attitudes we have about our bodies. They can be about our size, shape, skin complexion and colour, physical features and appearance.
Connect through strong relationships.
Last updated: April, 2023