A woman who has over come negative body image and is happy dancing with her partner

Overcoming Negative Body Image: Breaking Free from the Trap of Body Checking

Do you ever find yourself compulsively comparing your appearance to others, or constantly seeking reassurance about your looks? 

If so then keep reading because today I want to delve into a topic that resonates with so many of us, Body Checking.

Body checking manifests in various ways and can show up differently for us all. It involves continuously monitoring and evaluating your physical appearance, often leading to unhealthy and harmful behaviours that impact your mental, emotional and physical health.

Do you find yourself spending an excessive amount of time in front of the mirror. Meticulously scrutinising every inch of your body, searching for flaws or imperfections that serve to reinforce your already negative self-perception.

Woman looking in a full length mirror comparing her body size due to having triggers surrounding her body image

If you’re struggling with a negative body image you might also be in the habit of frequently glancing at your reflection in shop windows or any reflective surface. Perhaps you pinch, measure and weigh yourself and it’s starting to, or already has become, less of a habit, and more of an obsession.

Now, I want to be clear that occasional body checking is a natural response, especially in a society that places significant emphasis on appearance. However, when body checking becomes obsessive and consumes a significant portion of our thoughts and emotions it can have very harmful effects.

If you’ve reached a point where for you these behaviours are a means of validation, reassurance that your ‘good enough’ or in order to gain a sense of control then body checking is definitely something you might want to address. These behaviours may give some temporary relief or satisfaction at times but in the long run, they only serve to perpetuate your negative body image.

So today I want to dive into how you can start to overcome your body checking behaviours, so that you can reclaim your self-worth and cultivate a healthier relationship with your body.

Let’s get started!

Why is Body Checking so harmful?

Body checking is more than just a passing glance in the mirror or checking our reflection here and there. It goes beyond the surface level. It’s about how it affects your perception of yourself, and let’s be honest, it can take a toll on your confidence.

Picture this: you’re feeling pretty good about yourself, confident and not thinking about how you look. Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, a glimpse at the scale or an unflattering reflection turns your confidence upside down. In an instant, you start questioning every little detail about yourself, as if your entire worth depends on how you measure up and how you look.


This constant preoccupation with your physical appearance sets off a never-ending cycle, where you’re constantly search for perceived flaws or signs of imperfection. This relentless focus on your appearance has harmful results, including:

Decreased self-esteem

Obsessive body checking heightens your focus on perceived flaws and imperfections, significantly impacting your self-esteem. Continually scrutinising your appearance reinforces negative beliefs about yourself and undermining your confidence.

Woman sad due to low self esteem

Increased self-consciousness

Engaging in obsessive body checking makes you hyper-aware of your looks, leading to heightened self-consciousness. This discomfort and anxiety can arise in social situations, as you constantly worry about how others perceive you.

Negative body image

Body checking reinforces negative body image. The more you concentrate on perceived flaws, the more dissatisfied you become with your body. This negative body image ends up impacting various aspects of your life and well-being.

Emotional distress

Obsessive body checking leads to emotional distress, including feelings of sadness, frustration, or even anger. Constantly comparing yourself to unrealistic standards or striving for an unattainable “perfect” body takes a toll on your emotional state.

A Woman Comforting her Friend with Low Self-Esteem

Relationship strain

Preoccupation with body checking strains relationships, causing social withdrawal, avoidance of activities, or excessive self-criticism. This strain can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness and lack of connection.

Time and energy drain

Obsessive body checking is mentally and emotionally draining, consuming significant time and energy. This leaves less room for you to take part in meaningful activities, hobbies, or self-care practices.

Impact on overall well-being

Obsessive body checking negatively affects overall well-being, impacting work, relationships, and personal fulfilment. It creates an ongoing internal struggle, hindering you from fully enjoying and engaging in life.

It’s vital to remember that the severity and specific impacts of body checking may vary among individuals. However it is clear that the impact of body checking extends beyond surface level, and perpetuates a cycle of self-judgment and self-criticism. Your worth should not be tied solely to your appearance, neglecting the numerous amazing qualities that define who you truly are.

So, how can you stop or at least limit your Body Checking habits?

So let’s dive into practical tips to start breaking free from the trap of body checking:

1. Raise Awareness

Begin by recognising when you’re engaging in body checking. Start paying attention to and noticing the triggers and situations that lead to this behaviour. By increasing your awareness of the patterns, you can start addressing them effectively. 

Try this – Keep a journal or make mental notes of instances when you catch yourself body checking. This practice will help you identify patterns and become more conscious of the triggers.

confident young girl with written message on her body raising awareness about her body self-esteem

2. Challenge Negative Thoughts

When negative thoughts arise during body checking, question their validity. Remind yourself that your worth extends far beyond your appearance. Focus on your positive qualities, talents, and achievements to counteract self-criticism. 

Try this – Create a list of affirmations or positive statements about yourself and your body. Whenever negative thoughts arise, replace them with these positive affirmations as a reminder of your inherent worth.

3. Shift your Focus

Instead of obsessing over your physical appearance, redirect your attention to your overall well-being. Engage in activities that promote self-care, such as exercise, meditation, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones. By nurturing your body and mind, you can develop a healthier relationship with yourself. 

Try this – Make a list of activities that make you feel good about yourself and start dedicating time for these on a regular basis. Focus on the joy and fulfilment they bring rather than how you look during or after those activities.

4. Limit exposure to Triggers

Take steps to reduce exposure to situations or environments that tend to trigger body checking. This might involve unfollowing social media accounts that promote unrealistic beauty standards, avoiding places with excessive mirrors, or adjusting the way you consume media.

Try this – Go through your social media accounts and curate your feeds to include body-positive influencers or content creators who celebrate diverse bodies. Surrounding yourself with positive and inclusive messages can help counteract the negative influence of societal beauty ideals. However also make sure you aren’t solely following content based on ‘bodies’, diversify your feed for other positive and inspirational messages, accounts that make you laugh and those that align with your values and hobbies.

Negative effects on self esteem cause by external expectations

5. Seek Support

It’s essential to reach out to trusted friends, family members, or professionals who can provide guidance and support on your journey toward developing a healthier body image. Consider speaking with a therapist or joining support groups that focus on building your worth outside your physical appearance and self-acceptance. 

Try this – Seek out communities or online forums that promote body acceptance and provide a safe space for sharing experiences and seeking support, such as my Self Esteem Society. Engaging with others who have similar struggles can provide support, encouragement and valuable insights.

You’ve got this!

Breaking free from the cycle of body checking is a journey that requires time and patience. Remember to be kind to yourself and celebrate the small victories along the way. Your worth extends far beyond your appearance, and embracing your unique qualities is what truly matters.

You possess the power to change your relationship with your body and nurture a positive body image. Embrace self-love and acceptance, knowing that you deserve it. Celebrate your progress and continue to cultivate a compassionate and positive mindset.

If you’re eager to deepen your practice of self-acceptance, I invite you to watch my Self-Acceptance Masterclass that provides valuable insights and practical strategies to support you on your path of self-discovery and body acceptance.

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