Definition, How It Affects Health and Well-Being, and When It’s a Problem

Body image is defined as “the mental picture one forms of one’s body as a whole, including its physical characteristics and one’s attitudes toward these characteristics.”

It’s how you see yourself, how you feel about your body and its shape, and how you physically feel in your body.

And data suggests that living through a global pandemic has not been helpful for people’s body image overall. One U.K. survey found that social distancing and lockdown measures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic increased poor eating habits and body dissatisfaction. Women were more likely than men to report struggling with eating and worsening body image; and nearly 50 percent of those surveyed reported being more concerned about the way they looked.

“Body image is the way we view ourselves physically — the way we internally and externally talk about ourselves based on how we look, the reflection we see in the mirror,” says Jessica Cortez, RD, a Denton, Texas–based dietitian with Connections Wellness Group who specializes in eating disorders and body image.

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