Dissatisfaction with one’s own body is closely linked to issues of self-esteem and self-respect. According to the results of clinical studies, these factors have a significantly bigger impact on the development of eating disorders than the actual changes in weight, forms and body sensations that accompany this process.

How the system of one’s own approval and condemnation in case of negative or impaired body image is arranged.

при негативном или нарушенном образе тела.

Normally, a person has, more or less, a stable set of values by which he evaluates himself and answers the question “Who am I?”. It gives a sense of continuity of one’s self and self-worth, which is extremely important. In turn, actions that contradict this set are likely to lead to shame and despair.

Therefore, we spend a huge part of our life energy precisely on preservation and maintaining self-esteem, strengthening our sense of self-worth and perseverance.

The first thing that is important to clarify is: what is self-esteem based on?

A person with a negative, not realistic way of the body, most likely, will have a fragile foundation. This may be due to dependence on external sources and inadequate internal evaluation criteria. In this case, the conviction system will be based on assessments of people that are close to them from their past experience and authoritative people in the present.

And the support and therapeutic task here will be the search and definition of your own values, the ability to be proud of yourself and your actions.

You can’t choose someone else’s opinion, but you can choose your own criteria. Orientation to personal qualities and actions gives much more freedom and reasons to respect and please yourself, rather than trying to fit into the narrow scope of standardized external attractiveness.

“Historian Joan Jacobs Bromarg has studied girls’ diary entries and found that for girls in the 1890s, self-improvement was associated with the improvement of character. They wrote about their desire to be kinder and more attentive to their neighbors, to show more zeal in their studies, to end their thoughtlessness. Broumberg found out that 100 years later, for the same age group, self-improvement was associated with improved appearance, almost always meant buying things.”

Tracy Mann ‘The Secrets of the Nutrition Lab


A negative evaluation of oneself often relies on a lack of compliance with the standards that the body must meet.

For example, due to the fact that in the culture (the Western,in any case,) the values ​​of compliance with certain parameters of the body, slimness and youth have been plantedin recent decades. It has become commonplace to resort to plastic surgery and other interventions in the natural appearance and aging of the body. Such bodily remodeling is intended to be a preservation of self-esteem.

But approval of yourself is likely to be short-lived. Especially if all the value is enclosed in a certain body shape.

The support and therapeutic task will be to find more and more reliable sources of self-esteem. For example, any activity that makes it possible to feel valuable can be such a mainstay.

Age and other changes can damage one’s sense of self-worth.

This happens if the previous status or status has been a basis for self-esteem.

The support and therapeutic task in this case will be to promote restructuring and integration of body image, strengthen identity, expand the range of capabilities that support self-esteem.

When working with a body image, it is important for a helping specialist to clearly understand their own criteria that support self-worth.
Exposure to stereotypes prevalent in a particular cultural environment; Compatibility with self-support criteria of the patient.
It will also be useful to learn about the conditions in which the client’s self-esteem structure has been formed and continues to develop, and what expectations and requirements for the body and appearance exist in one’s life.

For thinking about the criteria, these questions will be helpful:

What qualities do I admire in myself and in others?

Why do I criticize myself and others?

In the process of body image therapy, it is important to gradually refocus attention from assessing external forms to the perception of life in one’s own body.


  •  – attention to bodily sensations;
  •  – development and restoration of sensitivity;
  •  – ability to recognize bodily intentions and needs;
  •  – ability to be kind and attentive to oneself, especially in difficult situations;
  •  – tolerance, acception of their characteristics and qualities that do not satisfy;
  •  – the ability not to resort to isolation at times of failure;
  •  – the ability to perceive the events of the current moment without evaluating them;
  •  – research and integration of one’s own bodily experience.


For a specialist in a helping profession, whose self-support system is often built around issues of dialogue, honesty with oneself and others, support in relationships, caring for people e.t, it can be difficult to deal with a client’s self-esteem system built on the principles of improving one’s own image. Despair, irritation, a sense of worthlessness and loneliness in such a contact are the most common reactions of a therapist. You can try to convince a person of his attractiveness, but positive introjection will not work until a strong base for a good self-relationship is created.

At the first stage, support will relay in studying and understanding of what is behind the facade of a persistent attempt to cope with life through self-discontent and bodily changes, as well as careful attention to everything that provides the client with the opportunity to respect himself.