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What Is the Connection between Body Image and Self-Esteem?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Body image and self-esteem are heavily related because it is almost impossible to have high self-esteem if one hates his or her body. Those with low self-esteem already are also more likely to view their bodies more harshly than warranted. The relationship between body image and self-esteem goes in both directions. Poor body image can eventually lead to self-esteem issues, and low self-esteem is often followed by a negative body image.

Low self-esteem can stem from various places. Those who were abused, teased or otherwise bullied are often more likely to have self-esteem issues. Children who are in foster care are also at risk for developing low self-esteem, bringing up one of the biggest connections between body image and self-esteem. Those who are overweight, or those who have been teased or ridiculed about their bodies, are likely to have self-esteem problems.

Poor self-esteem and a negative body image do not have to be in relation to an actual weight issue or body abnormality, as body image and self-esteem are much more linked than that. It has been shown that those who have poor self-esteem may view their bodies as being heavier, skinnier, bonier, or flabbier than they actually are. This can stem from self-esteem problems arising from unrelated issues, or it may come as the result of being teased about his or her body.

There are ways to improve both body image and self-esteem. Those who are overweight often are so because of low self-esteem. If this is the case, tackling self-esteem issues first is the best way to proceed. Seeing a counselor and being around positive, uplifting, people is often a good first step. A counselor can help patients begin to change they ways they think of themselves so that they see their bodies more realistically.

If poor self-esteem is caused directly by a poor body image, changing the area of ones body that causes the most anxiety may help. Being overweight is the most commonly reported body issue, and this can be remedied in most cases with proper diet and exercise. Counseling may also help in these cases because patients can begin to accept their bodies as they are when certain aspects cannot be changed, and to focus on the positive things they like about their bodies instead.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Spotiche5 — On Sep 25, 2014

@rundocuri- I agree with you, that is why people should not put too much emphasis on looks and beauty.

Preventing this starts when kids are young. At this stage, parents should be loving yet firm, and get their kids involved with activities that encourage selflessness, giving back, and teamwork. Volunteer and sporting activities are great for teaching this life lesson.

By Rundocuri — On Sep 25, 2014

Though you don't hear too much about the issue, people who are too confident can end up with body image issues too. For example, when people age and looks start to fade, those who were once very confident may end up losing a lot of their self esteem.

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