Four women hugging each other and showing confidence in themselves

The Relationship Between Body Image and Self Esteem

When we think about self-esteem, one of our instant correlations heads toward how we feel about how we look. For people who dislike the way they look, they’ll find that their self esteem takes a hit, too. But how are the two linked? Is body image and self esteem synonymous? What is the relationship between your body image and your self esteem?

In today’s article, we’re going to dive deep into the link between your self esteem and the perception of your body image.

So, without further ado, let’s jump in.

What Is Body Image?

Woman sat looking at herself in a hand held mirror admiring her body image.

Woman showing positive body image

Body image, in a nutshell, is the way you think and feel about your physical body. It also covers how you think other people might view your physical appearance.

What Is Self Esteem?

Woman sat looking at a mirror smiling full of self esteem

Woman showing signs of positive self esteem

Self esteem is the way you think and feel about yourself as a whole person, rather than solely your body. It’s the level at which you place yourself in terms of worth and the value you see in your existence.

What’s The Difference Between Body Image and Self Esteem?

While body image and self esteem are linked and share an intimate relationship, they are not the same thing.

Your body image is the way you perceive your physicality. It focuses on your appearance, and how you think and feel about your body. However, your self esteem focuses on you as an entire person. It may include your body image and appearance, but it runs deeper. It focuses on your personality, strengths and weaknesses, and the level of self-acceptance and compassion that you have for yourself.

What Is The Relationship Between Body Image and Self Esteem?

We now know that body image and self esteem are 2 different things. However, they are, very much, laced together and related.

Your body image – whether that’s positive or negative – will have an impact on your self esteem.

Remember, self esteem focuses on the whole person. If you have a severe body image complexion, you’ll find that it dominates your self esteem and lowers it, despite being happy with who you are as a person.

Both have a prime focus on how you feel, interact, and judge yourself. And while they are different concepts, they are very much linked to one another.

What Does a Positive Body Image Feel Like?

When you are accepting of your physical body, you’re more likely to feel confident and embrace life with more zest.

A positive body image can also create a higher surge of energy, and help to treat your body and mind with respect.

Life with Positive Body Image vs Life without Positive Body Image

The way we feel about our appearance has a large impact on the opportunities we make for ourselves. Having a negative body image can stifle our progress as human beings and clip our wings, for fear of being mocked due to our appearance.

In contrast, a positive body image does the complete opposite. While the perception of your body isn’t everything, it’s certainly a driving force behind your motivation levels, a key factor in the level of your self-esteem, and can make your life far more comfortable (or difficult, depending on the relationship you have with your body).

Signs of a Negative Body Image

Negative body image can be debilitating in extreme cases. Just like spotting signs of low self-esteem, it can be tricky to identify in yourself or your loved ones.

Woman showing signs of negative body image

Woman showing signs of negative body image which impacts her self-esteem

Here are a few symptoms of negative body image. If you feel this way yourself, or a loved one has mentioned any of these, it’s time to make a change:

  • An obsessive tendency to focus on weight
  • Consistent links to weight and failure
  • Feeling uncomfortable in almost every outfit
  • Avoiding social situations repeatedly due to the way they look
  • Avoiding intimacy due to the appearance of their body
  • A sense of hatred toward your body image, (sometimes, this takes time for it to become recognisable)

Will Better Body Image Fix My Low Self Esteem?

The truth is, it’s not as black and white as that, unfortunately.

Low self esteem can have many root causes. It’s possible that having a negative body image was only one slice of your low self esteem pie. If that’s the case, you may feel frustrated that, despite the work you’ve done to improve your body image, you are still spotting signs of low self esteem.

Woman journalling about her self esteem and body image journey

Woman sat journalling about her negative body issues in order to improve her self esteem

Another thing to consider is that low self esteem and negative body image doesn’t fix itself, and nor does it happen over night. It’s important that you identify the root causes, and work through them with specific activities to begin healing.

If you have a negative body image and low self esteem, it’s highly likely that you’ve treated yourself with very little self-compassion. As such, it’ll take time for you to begin to trust yourself again.

How To Work On My Negative Body Image and Low Self Esteem

Every person is different. The complexities of their self esteem issues and negative body image will be unique to them. And, in turn, so will the impact of the various strategies they put in place to improve.

For some, implementing small changes at home will make the world of difference. For others, though – specifically those in more extreme cases – investing in therapy or a self esteem coach may be the way forward.

Woman sat on her laptop talking and working on her self esteem and body image issues.

Woman sat talking through the deep rooted issues with Natalie

That said, here are a few strategies you can put in place at home to boost your self esteem and improve your negative body image:

  • Pick your company well. Choose to surround yourself with those who support you and build you up, rather than make snide comments or have negative body image themselves.
  • Exercise but for your heart, not your waist. Get moving for the endorphins, and feel good about yourself.
  • Create goals that focus on your personality rather than your appearance. For example, a goal could be to help 3 people at work with a task.
  • As simple as it sounds: get some sleep! You’ll be amazed at how different we feel if we’ve had a decent night’s sleep. Make sure you put some time aside to unwind before bed, and try to stay away from screens. Have a hot bubble bath, read a book, and set a bedtime.

Is It Worth The Work?

Having a positive body image will feed into a higher self esteem. Treating yourself with the same kind of love and respect as you have for your loved ones will give yourself permission to fail. That, in itself, is incredibly liberating. You’ll start living, rather than just surviving.

So, in short? Yes. Working on your self esteem and body image is more than worth it when you start to see the results.

Give it a shot, and let me know.

Have you been working on your body image and self-esteem? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments.

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  1. Steph says:

    Great tips I never knew how in-depth self esteem and body image went.

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