Body Image Versus Self Image

Body image VS Self image
By Camille Malecha, MA, LPC
Eating Disorder Specialist at Timberline Knolls

Imagine a completed puzzle that represents a person’s self-image. This picture consists of many pieces, since self-image is linked to personality, social roles (son, daughter, friend, or employee), physical appearance and existential statements. That final component refers to more nebulous concepts such as possessing an important place in the universe and being part of the whole. Now envision the cluster of puzzle pieces that represent body image. This is how a person perceives their physical person, primarily how it looks. Body image is extremely appearance-focused.

Here is what can happen when a person has an eating disorder: the body image pieces become the entire puzzle. Everything else that makes them who they are pales in comparison to the focus that is now placed on the physical person. This individual can become consumed with how they look and the perception is usually about 100 percent negative.

If strongly encouraged to point out a single positive aspect about their bodies, a person might say they have nice hair or a nice smile. But the positive recognition will rarely be below the neck.
The eating disorder can compel the person not to be just body-focused, but body-obsessed. Even if able to recognize positive qualities, or receive compliments from others, they often discredit the positive and immediately return to the negative. This low sense of self-worth is often what drives the eating disorder behaviors and keeps an individual stuck in shame and blame.

The goal of treatment at Timberline Knolls is two-fold. First, we want to move the person onhealthy viagra into a place of body acceptance, to simply accept their body the way it is. This doesn’t mean they approve, or even like, their body. We want them to embrace the reality that this is the one they have been given. As such, certain behaviors must be embraced to keep this body alive and healthy.

The second goal is to shift focus away from the body and more fully onto the self. We want them to see that they are so much more than what they look like. This realization gradually moves them from the negative to the positive.
We start with a daily practice of challenging negative distorted body image and self-image thoughts and using positive affirmations. We want a person to display gratitude and appreciation for all the body can do and find time throughout the day to say or write affirmations about self and body. Often times someone doesn’t go from hating themselves or their body to love. It is a process that can start with appreciation, move into acceptance, and then shift slowly towards having a love for self and body.

And finally, we want each person to know that they have great value, simply because they exist.
There is a reason they are on this earth; it might not be immediately clear what the role is, but what we know absolutely is their value is not connected to what they look like.

Are you struggling with body image? Would you like to learn more about Timberline Knolls and what is offered for eating disorder treatment? Check out or call MEDA at 617-558-1881.