My Body Shape
How often have you looked around and wished you could look like
someone else in a group? All too often women do this because they
are dissatisfied with the way they look.
Picture this. You and a girl friend are both 5'2". Do you both
have the same body shape? Probably not. Your friend may be a different
age, at a different stage of puberty, more physically active or
of a different ethnic background. All these things affect the
way each of you look.
The way you see your body is called your body image. It
is the mental picture you have of your appearance, and your feelings
towards that picture. Some people are comfortable with and accepting
of their bodies. Others are dissatisfied and may be trying to
change their shapes - gaining a little here or losing a little
there. At times your body image may have nothing to do with what
your body actually looks like! It is possible to be attractive
and well dressed yet feel "fat and ugly".
Serious examples of a poor body image are the eating disorders,
anorexia nervosa and bulimia. For some, a poor body image can
go hand-in-hand with low self-esteem. Self-esteem is a feeling
of how you value or respect yourself. It can affect how you act,
how you learn, how you get along with others and how you have
You're not alone, if you have a poor body image. About
90 percent of all women say they do not like their body size.
Many women see at least one body part as being larger than it
It's not surprising they feel this way about their bodies. Society
focuses on being slender. The people in magazines, movie stars,
popular singers or beauty contest winners seem tall, thin and "in fashion". Yet this "look" is not a good goal. There are many
different body shapes.
So what is a "right" body shape for you? No one body shape
is "right". Nor is there an easy answer to this question. To start,
your height and weight alone says little about your body.
Many factors affect your body shape. For example, the amount
of muscle and body fat differs between males and females, and
from person to person. During puberty you can expect to increase
your body weight, this includes gaining body fat. For this reason,
there is no "right" body shape.
We are all different. It's okay to be different. Try accepting
a wider variety of body shapes and sizes, for you, and those around
What if you still want to make some changes? If you are very thin or very heavy, your health can be affected.
Talk to someone about it. Seek some help. Take a healthy approach.
strict weight control diets don't work. About 95 percent of
all people who lose weight regain it, usually with a few extra
Eating "junk food" once in a while is okay, but at every meal can be
for healthy eating most of the time. Choose more whole grain
breads, cereals, pasta, rice, vegetables and fruit, some milk
products, also meat, fish poultry or other protein foods.
who are physically active are more likely to have a positive
body image and a greater acceptance of themselves.
the most out of fitness, you have to stay with it; to stay with
it you have to enjoy it.
Feel good about yourself! In this life there is only one
body per customer. When you feel you look good, you feel
more confident. Begin by giving up the attempt to change your
body into a shape it was never meant to be. Think about all the
other things you have going for you. Talk to a friend if you need
to be reminded. When the pressure builds up and your body image
is down...remind yourself "I'm great!"
If you want to talk some more, speak to your Teacher, Guidance
Counsellor or give us a call.
Your Public Health Nutritionist,
Your Public Health Nurse
Produced by Public Health Nutritionists in Metro Toronto and
the Regions of Peel and York. May be reproduced without permission
provided source is acknowledged. For more information on this
and other health-related topics, please call Peel Public Health