What Does It Mean to Have A Healthy Body Image?

26 thoughts on “What Does It Mean to Have A Healthy Body Image?”

  1. What is important is how our body feels – exercise makes the mind sharper and the muscles feel good. We think better and walk with a “spring” in our step.

  2. iam in seventh grade and my wieght is 164 i hate this fact and tell myself every day that i know i can do better…. but fail horribly to do anything about it… but after reading ur entry…i feel betterabout myself 🙂 thanks

    1. Hi Kalee!

      Try to just make ONE positive healthy decision everyday. Just one! It doesn’t have to be about food or exercise, either. It could be choosing to have a positive mindset when you feel yourself beginning to think negatively about yourself. Or it could be something small, like choosing an apple over potato chips or deciding to go for a walk after school instead of watching TV. You are beautiful the way you are, don’t feel badly about yourself! You are awesome.

  3. I’m 5’7″ and in 9th grade and my weight is 194, this is well over my range for someone my age and height. I try reading these stories and I see some pictures of women who are actually very skinny and thin. This really saddens me because they really should love the fact that they are very skinny, but what about the rest of us who are actually overweight? What if those other things like being pretty smart or good at singing or having medals or achievements aren’t there. What I’m I supposed to feel good about then?

    1. Medals and acheivements are external rewards, just like the pleasure of being ‘beautiful’ according to society’s standards.

      I want you to know you are good enough because of the person you ARE, not because of what other people say.

  4. i am 5’5 and i weigh around 155 pounds. I play soccer but even though im muscular and not really overweight i am really paranoid about my body. ( as in thighs and butt). people tell me many women would kill for a body like mine but i cant get past it. i feel like it attracts the wrong kind of attention and makes me look heavier. I dread shopping because it takes so long to find jeans that fit MY body right. And summer is a pain because i never find bathing suits that make ME feel comfortable… im not sure how to approach the problem because i work out almost every day and ive been told by family that its genetic..

    1. Raissa,

      I have been dealt the same hand. Having a butt and thighs is nothing to be worried about. I am 26 and still coming to terms with this idea. I have good days and I have bad days. Feeling good about your body comes from the inside out so. Constantly looking outwardly, criticizing and comparing will never make you feel good on the inside.

      Remember, when it comes to the “right” and “wrong” kind of attention, you cannot dictate what others do. You can only choose how to carry yourself and how to act in response to it.

      You are beautiful.

  5. I’m 5’1 and I used to weigh only 90 pounds. During that time, I was only eating one small meal a day. I’m not sure if it was because I was unhappy with the way I looked or what it was. I never thought i was fat…I was just uncomfortable. Now I’m 96 pounds…which isn’t much different…but its better. I’m an upcoming high school freshman, and a few months ago, one of my teachers from seventh grade saw me and her mouth dropped open. She said I looked like I was caving in. She was right. My stomach was sinking in. NOTHING i wore made me feel comfortable. I’m not sure how to feel better about being too skinny or too large. I was always the bigger than my two older sisters, but then I lost a lot of weight suddenly. I go back and forth with weight…sometimes i’ll be 100-105, and then six months later I would’ve lost ten or fifteen pounds. I don’t know how to deal with this problem.

    1. Hi Sarah:

      If you feel depressed and fear eating because you think it will make you gain weight, skip meals, and you can’t maintain a healthy weight for your size, you might have an issue with food. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have anorexia. Lots of people have ‘distorted eating’ that is just as serious. If your friends and teachers are concerned, you should ask for help. Can you talk to your teacher or a counselor at school? You deserve to feel strong and happy. I hope you have fun in marching band this year – stay strong!

  6. i always thought i was too fat because all my friends are skinny and soo i went to hawaii with my aunt for a while to hide my self but while i was there my self confidence droped even lower because i was fat to every one soo i would skip meals or not eat. but operation beautiful has helped me!!

    1. Hi Ciara:

      Maybe you can talk to a doctor about how to get to a healthier weight? I am so sorry you are struggling.

  7. a few days ago i read this artical. ever since then each time i looked in the mirro i would complemet myself. and if i thought something netative i would say something positive about whatever it was i dissed. now i noticed im more happy with the way i look. i used to think i was all fat and ugle, but now i see my beauty. 🙂

  8. She emphasized how important it is for women to celebrate and love our bodies. In the interview, she discussed the magazine cover shoot she did for Essence in which she appeared wearing nothing. She said that she did this because she wanted to be an example for younger women, especially her daughter, to demonstrate what it looks like to have a healthy body image and to love and accept our bodies.

    This raised a question for me- Since when is celebrating your body and feeling good about it equivalent to being nude on the cover of a magazine? This idea wasn’t the first time I have noticed this implicit conclusion that is often drawn about the degree to which we physically expose ourselves and how much we accept our bodies. The whole idea makes zero sense to me. There are a lots of ways to love our bodies and model positive body image to young women, daughters!!, and ourselves, outside of what we wear. Having a healthy body image is a state of mind, not just what we put on (or don’t put on) when we wake up in the morning. Just because you may not want to get naked on the cover of a magazine (or wear certain kinds of clothing, certain bathing suit styles, etc..) does not mean that you don’t love or accept your body!

    So what does having healthy body image really look like? As women, we are often hyper critical of our bodies and we may not always feel comfortable baring skin in certain outfits or in skimpy bathing suits. But some of us do!! Sometimes that has to do with our body image, but sometimes it doesn’t! So what does it really mean to have a healthy body image? I think that healthy body image means that you can accept yourself and your body for what it is, and that you are able to acknowledge the beauty that exists inside and out. Just because you may wake up one morning not feeling so hot does not mean that you can’t still accept your body and appreciate all that it does for you.. It can be a challenge some days but practicing healthy body image can go a long way! How we think about ourselves impacts how we feel, and how we feel often impacts how we behave and act. So how do we work on improving our body image??

    Here is a short list of ideas that help promote healthy body image:
    1. Focus on what your body does for you, rather than what size you wear or what the scale says.
    2. Don’t let your body hold you back from engaging in activities or participating in social activities that you might otherwise participate in. If how you feel about your body is interfering with these things, you probably don’t accept your body!
    3. Be discriminating with what you are looking at (media images, TV, magazines, etc) and what you are reading. It is important to think and observe critically so that you know what is realistic and what is not. Real bodies are what make women beautiful! You don’t really see that much in the media!

    Would love to hear your thoughts on body image! Any other ideas about how we as women can encourage each other in accepting our bodies?

    .{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

    Pam Savage February 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm
    What is important is how our body feels – exercise makes the mind sharper and the muscles feel good. We think better and walk with a “spring” in our step.

    Reply

    . Kalee April 20, 2011 at 10:05 am
    iam in seventh grade and my wieght is 164 i hate this fact and tell myself every day that i know i can do better…. but fail horribly to do anything about it… but after reading ur entry…i feel betterabout myself thanks

    Reply

    . Caitlin April 20, 2011 at 10:22 am
    Hi Kalee!

    Try to just make ONE positive healthy decision everyday. Just one! It doesn’t have to be about food or exercise, either. It could be choosing to have a positive mindset when you feel yourself beginning to think negatively about yourself. Or it could be something small, like choosing an apple over potato chips or deciding to go for a walk after school instead of watching TV. You are beautiful the way you are, don’t feel badly about yourself! You are awesome.

    Reply

    . Sam May 2, 2011 at 12:27 am
    I’m 5’7? and in 9th grade and my weight is 194, this is well over my range for someone my age and height. I try reading these stories and I see some pictures of women who are actually very skinny and thin. This really saddens me because they really should love the fact that they are very skinny, but what about the rest of us who are actually overweight? What if those other things like being pretty smart or good at singing or having medals or achievements aren’t there. What I’m I supposed to feel good about then?

    Reply

    . Caitlin May 2, 2011 at 9:02 am
    Medals and acheivements are external rewards, just like the pleasure of being ‘beautiful’ according to society’s standards.

    I want you to know you are good enough because of the person you ARE, not because of what other people say.

    Reply

    . Raissa May 17, 2011 at 6:18 pm
    i am 5’5 and i weigh around 155 pounds. I play soccer but even though im muscular and not really overweight i am really paranoid about my body. ( as in thighs and butt). people tell me many women would kill for a body like mine but i cant get past it. i feel like it attracts the wrong kind of attention and makes me look heavier. I dread shopping because it takes so long to find jeans that fit MY body right. And summer is a pain because i never find bathing suits that make ME feel comfortable… im not sure how to approach the problem because i work out almost every day and ive been told by family that its genetic..

    Reply

    . Sarah June 24, 2011 at 10:26 pm
    I’m 5’1 and I used to weigh only 90 pounds. During that time, I was only eating one small meal a day. I’m not sure if it was because I was unhappy with the way I looked or what it was. I never thought i was fat…I was just uncomfortable. Now I’m 96 pounds…which isn’t much different…but its better. I’m an upcoming high school freshman, and a few months ago, one of my teachers from seventh grade saw me and her mouth dropped open. She said I looked like I was caving in. She was right. My stomach was sinking in. NOTHING i wore made me feel comfortable. I’m not sure how to feel better about being too skinny or too large. I was always the bigger than my two older sisters, but then I lost a lot of weight suddenly. I go back and forth with weight…sometimes i’ll be 100-105, and then six months later I would’ve lost ten or fifteen pounds. I don’t know how to deal with this problem.

    Reply

    . Caitlin June 26, 2011 at 11:28 am
    Hi Sarah:

    If you feel depressed and fear eating because you think it will make you gain weight, skip meals, and you can’t maintain a healthy weight for your size, you might have an issue with food. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have anorexia. Lots of people have ‘distorted eating’ that is just as serious. If your friends and teachers are concerned, you should ask for help. Can you talk to your teacher or a counselor at school? You deserve to feel strong and happy. I hope you have fun in marching band this year – stay strong!

    Reply

    . shanda June 29, 2011 at 4:12 pm
    i always thought i was too fat because all my friends are skinny and soo i went to hawaii with my aunt for a while to hide my self but while i was there my self confidence droped even lower because i was fat to every one soo i would skip meals or not eat. but operation beautiful has helped me!!

    Reply

    . Ciara July 3, 2011 at 7:30 pm
    Hi Im 16 5’7 and I weigh 190 I hate my weight it makes me so depressed everyday I hate my body…

    Reply

    . Caitlin July 6, 2011 at 11:35 am
    Hi Ciara:

    Maybe you can talk to a doctor about how to get to a healthier weight? I am so sorry you are struggling.

    Reply

    . erica July 3, 2011 at 11:38 pm
    a few days ago i read this artical. ever since then each time i looked in the mirro i would complemet myself. and if i thought something netative i would say something positive about whatever it was i dissed. now i noticed im more happy with the way i look. i used to think i was all fat and ugle, but now i see my beauty.

    Reply

    . Aisusutumu August 5, 2011 at 3:31 pm
    I’m just going to say this. Body image is body image. I gotta think more critically now.

    Reply

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  9. Hi I am 5″1 and I weight 192 Lbs. Trully I know I am heavy but I Love myself, after realized that everyone wants to have big chest, curves and a nice booty I think we are good there is no need for me to hate myself and we need to think about it. Aswk yourself, what do you have that make you special?? There is something maybe your eyes, delicate face , gorgeous hair, personality, tec. We have to love ourself if we don’t nobody will.

  10. Hi I’m almost 14. I always thought of my self as low and not pretty. I always weighed more than my sisters, it is still hard for me. Even thought I know I’m healthy at 5’3 and 105 my older sister is 18 and makes me feel big. Shes always getting compliments about how shes so skinny. I feel depressed, my sisters used to criticize me being the heaviest. Now they call me names like anorexic because I dont have cake at a party. It has token a toll on me. When I came into high school I had such low confidence and it makes me depressed that I let people see me a that.

    1. Hey Alexis, I know exactly how you feel. I’m 14, and I weigh a lot more than my sister, who is basically supermodel-skinny (and she knows it!). She often discourages me by hinting that my thigh is getting fatter and saying I’m not as pretty as she is. For a while I barely ate, and made up excuses to my parents and friends like ‘I’m going out for dinner’ when I would just not eat at all, because I felt like I was too fat. But then I discovered Operation Beautiful, and I am still preparing with one of my insecure friends to take an oath that says things like we should enjoy ourselves but not go overboard, exercise regularly to keep fit instead of starving ourselves, and never point out your flaws! It’s hard but we’re on our way, and so are lots of girls around the world. Leave the rude comments behind and be your own beautiful self!

  11. I hate being skinny!!! I don’t have any curves and i hate how people describe girls like me a ‘boyish’…some women get womanly, that’s a lovely way to describe their body! But i’m ‘boyish’ of course and that’s such an unfeminine term, it makes me feel like nothing, not exactly ugly but not beautiful just absolutely nothing. I do respect my body, i try not to damage it in any way but i hate the way it looks, i wish my waist went in more at least…and i wish my hips were bigger, too. I wish people would stop saying my frame is boyish, it doesn’t even make sense because surely it would make more sense to say girlyish i mean i AM still female, it fits better and it’s a term that makes me feel a little more feminine. I’m sick of seeing people say men don’t want waifs they want curves…i just don’t feel like anything of any worth when someone just looks at the way i look and only that. Nothing special, or particularly beautiful, amazing or whatever, i know my body does alot but i’m only talking about the way it looks…if you look in history or even just a few decades ago you can see how curvy was always in and nobody wanted skinny, my body is almost repulsive. But i know what clothes and shapes suit it, when i wear them, though i don’t feel quite as beautiful as i want to. There’s nothing special about it, it’s just there. I want to walk around wearing whatever the hell i want and have people look at me and be amazed by what they see, but it doesn’t happen. But at least i have inside beauty, i could marry a blind man i guess. But if one guy, just one guy looked at me and said i am beautiful and even reffered to my body i would feel beautiful, but it doesn’t happen. Sorry i went on and it’s so negative i’m usually very positive but there seem to be WAY more men who like curves and even hate skinny bodies than vice versa, it’s a reality check for me.

    1. Georgia you are incredibly beautiful! Be confident. Many guys will think you are beautiful and tell you so, the right time for you just has not apparently come yet. Most guys care more about personality than body, so let your inner beauty shine. Some guys will always be looking for what they consider to be the “perfect” body type for the women they want to date, but they are the minority! Dont pay attention to them and anyone else that bullies you. I know its hard and bullying hurts(a lot), but shake it off and go on with your life and do what makes you happy. So what if you don’t have curves, many women I know don’t. Everyone has a different body type. Stop comparing yourself and accept yourself for who you are. If I could know where you are right now, I would give you a big hug. 🙂 I am glad that you already see your inner beauty and are positive most of the time. Those things are extremely important. Hang on there, you are worth it!!!

  12. Body image is such a huge issue for women of all ages! We women need to learn to love and accept our bodies and ourselves for who we really are. I have been struggling with self love for awhile and I am finally starting to break our of the loop. I always think people are judging me when they are really just going about their own business and not caring what I do or say or look like. I am almost sixteen and I know that body image is big at my high school. There is so much pressure from the media; magazines, TV, etc. I want to change the world and while thinking about what I want to do with my life (I will be a junior this fall) I have always wanted to change social body image even if it means I just take a small step in the right direction. When I have kids(way in the future) I want to be their role model and have them not fall under the deceiving trap of body image and self hate. At a young age I will teach them that they are beautiful in every aspect and they should not change who they are (unless they really want to) because I did not get the encouragement I need, especially at this age, that I need growing up, from my parents. Everyone out there, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, GORGEOUS, AND AMAZING!!!

  13. Although I hate saying I’m a number (because I am ME! Not a number on a scale :)), I am 5’3 and 100 pounds. I eat healthy meals (sometimes just a little too much pasta, not enough veggies :3), and make half hearted attempts to excercise. People have called me anorexic and told me I’m too skinny. No matter what I’ve tried, my weight won’t budge. I just wanted to say, it ain’t so hunky-dory on this end either! :p I feel pressured to be curvier, but also to have thinner thighs and a smaller waist. But guess what? God blessed all of us with what we’ve got, love it! 😀 I love you all, and I only wish the best to you! Health and happiness 🙂 <3

  14. I have never posted before but I came across Operation Beautiful and thought, “Finally! A website that doesn’t tell girls how to be “beautiful” according to the standards of Western Society.”
    I tried fitting myself into that mold once myself and caused great concern within my family about my overall physical health. I had lost so much weight at one point that I hadn’t gotten my period for six months.
    I had been bullied and ostracized during my school years for being overweight (mostly). I was always a very shy person and, therefore, found it difficult to talk to people. I’m shy, as a matter of fact.
    It wasn’t until college that I realized that I am a likeable person. I prefer to think positively about others in that when I meet someone I always try to give them the benefit of the doubt because I know what it is like to be judged for all the wrong reasons.
    Be you and, more importantly, have fun being you. Enhance your unique qualities that makes you so very you.
    “Always be who you are,
    and say what you feel,
    because people who mind
    don’t matter, and people
    who matter don’t mind.”
    – Dr. Suess

  15. Hi my name is Alyssa, I’m 13, 5′ 2″, and 104lbs. I really hate my body because I appear to be overweight. The thing is though, I’m not! I am a due-hard runner, gymnast, and champion shot putter for my schools track team. I work out constantly to keep in shape, and as a result of this, I am pure muscle. I’ve even been to the doctor and he said he had never seen anybody as muscular as me. I love my body for the things it can do, but not the way it looks on the outside. 🙁

  16. I read that article years ago. Jada Pinkett Smith has always been an advocate for natural beauty. She promotes Carol Daughter’ all natural hair and body products. She is always speaking about women being strong and independent. Before she had her kids with Will and before technology like Facebook, Myspace, twitter, the internet took flight she was one of the voices in regard to natural beauty, women being strong and independent. Over the past decade or so she has been behind the scenes raising her kids for the most part with big small jobs here and there whereas Will Smith has been one of the faces of the 21st century. Her posing nude had nothing to do with her promoting women of all shapes and sizes to expose their bodies, the point she made to me and others and tried to make to you was women need to accept their bodies. Rather it is big, small, fat, skinny. Women just need to take care of it by not being stressed out, moisturizing the skin, personal hygiene, working out, keeping your hair groom no matter what your grade of hair is. A lot of people may not realize it but skinny and short women feel just as unpretty as fat and short women or fat and tall women. Especially if you were raised in an environment were women with big butts and breast were the popular and sought after look. Which is the truth in most African American communities. I was told growing up, I was pretty but had the body of a man, just straight with no curves, flat chested in the front and the back. Being told that made me feel unpretty .So I understand what Jada is saying. Personally, her article inspired me to keep loving my body by taking care of it and not be ashamed of it. Thanks Jada.

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