Loyola University Maryland

Counseling Center

Body Image

Body image is:

  • The subjective image of how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind
  • Your beliefs about your appearance, including your memories, assumptions, and generalizations
  • How you feel about your body, including your height, shape, and weight;
  • How you feel IN your body

Negative body image

  • Is a distorted perception of your body
  • Can lead one to feel ashamed, self-conscious, anxious, and uncomfortable
  • Can negatively impact your interpersonal relationships
  • Can impact your relationships with food, exercise, self-care, and self-expression

Positive body image

  • Is an awareness of one’s body – you see your body as it really is
  • Can lead one to celebrate and appreciate their body, and feel confident, and secure
  • Can positively impact your interpersonal relationships
  • Can improve one’s relationships with food, exercise, self-care and self-expression

Body Image and Gender Identity

Sometimes, issues with body image, or body dysphoria, may be related to gender identity. If you are trans*, gender non-conforming, or questioning, please visit our Coming Out page for more details about how the Counseling Center can support you.

Body Image and Pop Culture

Concerns about body image can be fueled by the dizzying number of images of “ideal” bodies on social media. At the Counseling Center, we encourage you to consider the following questions:

  • Why do we think we should look a certain way?
  • Where does our idea of the “ideal” body come from?
  • How do “ideal” body images differ from culture to culture?
  • Who decides what is beautiful?
  • How do images we see in the media affect our daily lives?
  • What messages do we receive through popular culture regarding body image?
  • How do these messages influence how we feel?

It is not uncommon to struggle with body image, and at the Counseling Center, we are available to help you work toward recognizing and respecting your body and all that it is capable of doing! 

Five Tips for Positive Body Image 

One list cannot automatically tell you how to turn a negative body image into a positive one, but it can help you think about new ways of looking at yourself in a healthier way.


Decrease exposure to media that promotes limited examples of beauty and attractiveness.

Be Your Body's Friend

Don’t say anything to your body you wouldn’t say to a friend.

Your Body is a Temple

Treat your body with the love and respect it deserves! Make sure your meals are colorful and your body is recharged through appropriate sleep and exercise.

Flaunt it!

Wear clothing and accessories that make you feel good about your body and show your unique personality.

Stop Body Shaming Talk

Criticizing yourself creates a toxic environment.  The way you talk to yourself matters!