In today’s appearance-obsessed culture, maintaining a positive body image can feel like an uphill battle. Body image affirmations are a tool that can help you build a healthier and more positive relationship with your body.
In this post, I’ll define key body image terms, dispel myths about body image, discuss how affirmations can help, and when they might not be the best solution. I’ve also compiled a list of body image affirmations for various scenarios, such as dealing with negative body comments or social comparisons.
Read on to learn more!
Table of Contents
This blog post is intended to be a tool and provide body image support and encouragement. However, it is not a substitute for professional help or medical advice.
If you have or suspect you have an eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder, I strongly encourage you to seek the guidance of a qualified professional.
The information provided in this post should not be interpreted or used as medical advice. Always consult your physician or a healthcare professional on matters relating to your health and well-being.
Seeking help is a sign of strength, and we are here to support you on your journey to body acceptance and appreciation.
Content Warning: Some cited research may contain fatphobic language and perpetuate weight stigma.
What is Body Image? Defining Key Terms
Before we dive into the affirmations, I want to clear up some key body image terms since there are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstanding around them.
If you already have a good understanding of these or are just here for the affirmations, feel free to jump ahead to the affirmations section using the Table of Contents for easy navigation of this post!
For those looking for more clarity, let’s start by defining some essential terms related to body image.
Body image is the subjective image you have of your body. It is made up of 4 key components:
- Perceptual body image is how you see yourself or how you perceive your body to be. This perception may not always be accurate.
- Example: “My thighs are so big.”
- Affective body image is how you feel about your body.
- Examples: “I’m so happy I lost 5 lbs this week!” or “I’m ashamed of the wrinkles on my forehead.”
- Cognitive body image encompasses the thoughts and beliefs you have about your body.
- Example: “If I could just lose 10 lbs, then I’ll be happy.”
- Behavioral body image is the things you do in relation to your body image.
- Example: avoiding an event because you feel poorly about your body
Body Image Myths and Realities
- Changing your appearance won’t improve your body image. Improving your body image doesn’t require you to change your appearance. Contrary to popular belief, losing weight or getting cosmetic procedures won’t improve your body image. Body image is more about your feelings and thoughts than your physical appearance. You can improve your body image without altering your looks.
- When your happiness, self-worth, or satisfaction are tied to a number on the scale or a physical quality about your body, it can lead to an intense drive to achieve or maintain the desired look. This can cause disordered eating and exercise, body checking, preoccupation with body weight and shape, and neglect of other aspects of life like relationships, hobbies, personal growth, and more.
- People of all sizes and shapes can struggle with body image. Celebrities, influencers, and athletes (people who fit the societal beauty standard and are often praised for their looks) can experience a negative body image and related issues.
- Body image can frequently change, even though our physical body doesn’t change. Even though our bodies may remain fairly consistent from day to day, our perception of them can vary widely depending on our mood, environment, or situation.
- Working on improving body image doesn’t lead to complacency, laziness, or “giving up.” In fact, positive body image increases health-promoting behaviors. This is because people who have a positive body image are more likely to view their bodies as something to care for and respect rather than something to punish or criticize.
Negative Body Image
A negative body image consists of the negative thoughts and feelings you have about your body. People with negative body image tend to be preoccupied with thoughts about their physical appearance and often engage in negative self-talk or compare their bodies to unrealistic or idealized images.
This preoccupation with their appearance may interfere with their daily life or impair their ability to engage in activities they once enjoyed, leading to a decreased quality of life.
If a person’s self-worth is highly connected to how they perceive their body, a negative body image can lead to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and depression and can also lead to disordered eating or eating disorders, over-exercising, and low self-esteem.
A variety of factors, such as cultural ideals of beauty, social pressure, past experiences of bullying, trauma, weight stigma, systemic oppression, or certain mental health factors can influence a negative body image. A negative body image can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, race, size, or shape.
Positive Body Image
Positive body image is a multifaceted concept that extends beyond mere satisfaction with one’s appearance. It’s not about loving every aspect of your body at all times or something that’s only achieved when you “reach your ideal body.” Instead, a positive body image involves body appreciation, acceptance, and love while embracing beauty in a diverse range of appearances, both in oneself and others.
A positive body image is distinct from a negative one, meaning that reducing a negative body image doesn’t automatically result in a positive one. Positive body image encompasses a broader perspective on our relationship with our bodies. It’s about accepting our bodies as they are, showing appreciation and compassion for their unique differences and challenges, and effectively managing body image concerns as they happen.
This perspective promotes appreciating our bodies for their functions and unique characteristics, even as they change throughout time. It encourages us to see beauty beyond societal ideals and to build resilience in the face of body image threats such as receiving negative body comments (1).
A positive body image leads to less worry and concern over appearance, allowing for a life guided by the values that were once overshadowed by body image thoughts and concerns. As these concerns diminish, the focus shifts to what genuinely matters, leading to a more fulfilling and authentic life.
What are Affirmations?
Affirmations are a powerful tool to combat negative self-talk and cultivate a more positive mindset.
They are statements or phrases that help to reprogram your subconscious mind. With consistent use, affirmations can help you overcome self-doubt and negative thinking.
Contrary to what is sometimes portrayed, they are not about striving for perfection or bringing impossible tasks to fruition but rather recognizing and celebrating your strengths, beliefs, and values.
They can improve your sense of self-worth to help you cope with challenging situations.
When you use affirmations, you’re essentially encouraging yourself and affirming your values.
This allows you to cultivate a stronger sense of self, helping you navigate life’s challenges more easily and resiliently.
How Affirmations Work
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”Henry Ford
Henry Ford’s quote perfectly summarizes the influence that our thoughts can have on our lives.
Our thoughts are extremely powerful and can influence how we feel and how we act. Our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are all interconnected.
When you have negative thoughts, you’re more likely to engage in behaviors that validate them. This creates a cycle that reinforces your negative thoughts and beliefs even further.
Studies have shown that a significant portion of our self-talk tends to be negative.
Sometimes, our negative self-talk and beliefs can become so deeply ingrained that we’re not even conscious of their presence. These thoughts can even act as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Affirmations have the power to change those thoughts. By using positive affirmations, we can reprogram our brains and break free from negative thought patterns.
Why Affirmations are Important for Body Image
Affirmations can help in improving body image by helping to reframe negative thoughts and beliefs about our bodies. They encourage us to focus on our internal worth, capabilities, functionality, characteristics, values, and more that extend beyond physical appearance.
Affirmations help to remind us that beauty is far more diverse than what is portrayed by societal beauty standards. They can empower us to care for and respect our bodies, regardless of how we may feel about them on any given day.
By repeating these statements, we can gradually rewire our thought patterns and create a more balanced, healthier perspective of our bodies.
When Affirmations Might Not Work for Body Image
While affirmations can be a helpful tool in promoting a positive body image, they may not be enough on their own, and incorporating other strategies or seeking support and guidance can be beneficial.
Sometimes, addressing deeper-rooted beliefs or past experiences that contribute to a negative body image may require additional help with the implementation of affirmations or the use of other techniques altogether.
In these cases, working alongside a professional can be valuable in developing a more comprehensive approach to developing a positive body image.
Also, while these affirmations can be used as a starting place for you, if they don’t resonate or connect with you, they’ll feel like empty statements. Additionally, affirmations shouldn’t be used as a way to suppress or avoid negative emotions but rather to acknowledge and help process them.
Be sure to check out the section on creating your own affirmations that align with your values and experiences to create some affirmations that resonate with you.
Body Image Affirmations
- How I see my body is not always accurate.
- I will practice self-compassion when I’m feeling bad about my body.
- I am learning to challenge my limiting beliefs about my body.
- I make choices that honor my body and prioritize self-care.
- I am more than my appearance.
Affirmations for Developing a Positive Body Image
- I appreciate my body for its strength, resilience, and function.
- I celebrate the beauty in myself and others.
- My appearance does not determine my self-worth.
- I am grateful for my nose, which is a reflection of my heritage.
- I choose to focus on my values and passions rather than my appearance.
Affirmations for Reducing a Negative Body Image
- I acknowledge how I’m feeling about my body and remember that this feeling will pass.
- My arms allow me to lift and carry heavy things, hug my loved ones, and carry out my favorite activities.
- My body deserves adequate food to satisfy my hunger, no matter how I feel about it.
- I release the need to compare my body to others.
- I will be in photos and videos that capture memories with loved ones, no matter how I feel about my body.
Affirmations for Bad Body Image Days
- Emotions are temporary; these feelings will pass.
- It’s okay to feel this way; I accept and acknowledge [current emotion].
- I celebrate my creativity and the strength that comes from my ability to see the world in a unique way.
- I appreciate my mind for its ability to think creatively, which allows me to advance in my career.
- My body may change, but my self-worth doesn’t.
- I don’t hate my body; I hate the way I’ve learned to feel about my body.
- I will engage in activities that bring joy and take my focus off appearance.
- My body is not the problem. The way society views and treats marginalized and diverse bodies is the problem.
- My body may look different than it did 10 years ago, but in that time, I have:
- [overcome personal challenges, built resilience, and gained a greater sense of self-awareness.]
- [formed new relationships, deepened existing ones, and surrounded myself with a community of loving and supportive people.]
- [pursued new hobbies, learned new skills, and discovered new passions that bring me joy and fulfillment.]
- [traveled to new places, experienced different cultures, and expanded my horizons.]
- [created new life, nurtured and raised my children, and built a loving environment for my family.]
- I will focus on being present, connected, and sharing experiences rather than how I look when I am with others.
Affirmations for Social Comparisons
- My fear is valid, but my body’s needs are a priority over others’ judgments.
- Social media is not reality. [I will unfollow unrealistic body standard accounts and instead follow body-positive or values- and interest-based accounts on social media.]
- I celebrate the unique qualities and achievements of both myself and others.
- I choose to uplift others and celebrate their accomplishments rather than compare myself to them.
- I appreciate others for who they are beyond their appearance.
- Comparison creates competition, not community and connection.
- I choose to focus on my own journey rather than comparing myself to others
- My body is different from hers, but that does not make me less than or better than her.
- My worth is not determined by how I measure up to others.
- I remind myself that everyone has their own struggles and strengths, and comparison is not helpful.
Affirmations for Negative Body Comments
- I will set boundaries around people who comment on my body.
- What they said to me was hurtful, and it does not define who I am.
- Negative comments are a reflection of the other person’s insecurities, and I will respond with compassion for them and myself.
- I am enough as I am.
- This person is stuck in diet culture, it has nothing to do with me.
- I am more than my appearance, and my value comes from within.
- I will not let negativity dim my light.
- My body deserves nourishment and care, regardless of others’ comments or judgments.
- I do not need to change my body to conform to negative comments.
- I will align my actions with my values, appearance isn’t one of them.
- I can’t control others’ opinions of me. I am in control of how I perceive and react to those opinions.
Write Your Own Body Image Affirmations
I hope some of these affirmations I’ve shared resonate with you!
These affirmations are a great starting point, but the more impactful affirmations are the ones you write yourself to reflect your own needs, experiences, values, and challenges.
Here are some helpful tips for coming up with your own affirmations
- Identify Negative Thoughts without Judgement
Begin by identifying unhelpful or negative thoughts you have regarding body image. Acknowledge these thoughts and bring awareness to them without judgment. Are there any trends or patterns? Use these thoughts as the foundation for your affirmations.
- Use “I” Statements.
When writing your affirmations, use “I” (or “my” and “me”) statements such as “I am,” “I will,” or “I trust.”
- Align them with your values.
Make sure that the affirmations resonate with you and align with your values. Ask yourself if the current thought you’re having moves you toward your values or further away. What’s a statement that aligns more with your values?
For example, if family is one of your values, and you’re worried about attending a family gathering because you’re feeling self-conscious about your appearance, remind yourself of the value you place on family connection. Instead of focusing on your appearance, choose affirmations like “My presence with my family matters more to me than my appearance.” “I choose to create memories and be in the moment rather than worry about my appearance.”
- Choose Affirmations That Feel Authentic.
If you’re currently struggling with negative feelings about your body, reciting affirmations like “I’m beautiful” may seem insincere or unconvincing. Instead, opt for affirmations that acknowledge your current feelings and emphasize something that feels more authentic or attainable. For example, “Even though I’m feeling down about my body, I still deserve nourishment” or “My value extends far beyond my appearance.”
- Use Neutral Statements.
Similarly, if positive statements feel too challenging, start with neutral statements that are easier to believe for you.
- Keep the affirmations concise.
Keep your affirmations short, meaningful, and easy to remember. They will likely be more concise than the examples I have given since I was trying to portray the meaning behind the affirmations.
- Write Them Before Tough Moments.
Write down your affirmations before tough moments. It can be hard to come up with them in the heat of the moment.
- Give Examples
When negative thoughts are rooted in core beliefs, they can be challenging to overcome. Typically they arise from past experiences, which can validate those beliefs. Your past experiences give you examples that support your beliefs.
To make your affirmations more effective, try finding examples that support the positive statements as well. For example, If you’re working with the affirmation “I am more than my appearance,” remind yourself of moments when you were praised or appreciated for your non-physical qualities, such as your kindness, intelligence, or creativity. Remembering these instances can help you internalize the belief that your worth extends beyond your physical looks.
- Update your Affirmations as Needed.
Regularly reassess and adjust your affirmations to reflect your current challenges and growth. Your needs and perspective will likely change over time.
- Don’t Overthink It
Writing and using affirmations can feel intimidating at first but don’t stress too much over it. It’s a process that gets easier with practice. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
How to Use Body Image Affirmations
Now that you’ve come up with some Body Image affirmations that resonate with you, it’s time to start using them. Here’s how to start incorporating your affirmations:
- Make affirmations a habit.
Incorporate affirmations into your daily routine. Choose a time of day when you can dedicate a few minutes to repeating your affirmations. This can be when you wake up, during your morning coffee, or before bed. Tip: saying them in the morning can start your day on a positive note.
- Use affirmations before a challenging situation.
If you know you’ll be entering a situation that usually triggers negative thoughts about food or your body, try using affirmations beforehand.
- Repeat them consistently
Consistency is key when it comes to affirmations. They’re not a quick fix. You won’t see changes after one time. It takes time and practice.
- Visualize your affirmation.
As you repeat your affirmation, visualize yourself living out the words.
- Align your behaviors with your affirmations.
Our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings are all interconnected. When your actions reflect your beliefs and values, you reinforce your affirmations and make them more impactful.
Final Thoughts and Next Steps
Affirmations are a powerful tool for developing a positive body image. By using them consistently, you can reprogram your mind and promote a more positive relationship with your body.
I hope this post gave you the boost you need to start crafting your own affirmations and using them on your body image journey!
If you’re interested in learning more about body image or Intuitive Eating, be sure to check out some of these other blog posts:
- 100+ Intuitive and Mindful Eating Affirmations to Help Combat Negative Self-Talk
- 50+ Body Neutrality Affirmations to Help Break Free From Appearance Obsession
- Overcome Bathing Suit Anxiety – Tips from an Intuitive Eating Dietitian
- Intuitive Eating for Weight Loss [Everything you Need to Know]
- Looking for an Intuitive Eating Coach? Read this!
- Why Intuitive Eating Doesn’t Work: An Expert’s Perspective
- The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating [A Complete Guide + Free PDF]
If you’re looking for personalized support, I offer one on one body image and Intuitive Eating counseling services to help you find food freedom and body confidence. My one-on-one services are tailored to your specific needs and concerns. We work to develop a plan together that will help you achieve your goals and fit into your life. Whether you’re looking to break free from the diet cycle, overcome emotional or binge eating, or start treating your body with respect and kindness, I’m here to help.
Kristin is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, and Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics with a concentration in Biology and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She has experience conducting systematic reviews and writing and evaluating scientific literature in peer-reviewed journals. She has a goal of making evidence-based nutrition information accessible and easy to understand.