Body Image Issues

Body Image Disturbances

What is body image disturbance?

Body image is how you think and feel about your body and what you do about those feelings. Some people feel bad about their bodies and try to change them though a variety of means sometimes referred to as appearance-management behaviors. These include routine behaviors such as cutting or coloring hair, shaving, ironing, and changing clothing. Non-routine behaviors are sometimes invasive or dangerous, and include changing eating habits, working out, exercise, or even surgery.

Disordered eating includes crash dieting, yo-yo dieting, fasting, and bingeing & purging.

Disordered exercise includes working out (or exercising) for long periods of time, using steroids or over-the-counter products, and avoiding foods (i.e., carbohydrates) that you feel may “hurt” your muscles.

Disordered behaviors are dangerous because of the toll they take on the mental, physical, and spiritual body. Mentally, people with body image disturbances are seeking to fit-in with cultural or social standards. Physically, they are harming themselves by avoiding food, destroying bone and cartridge, harming muscles (including the heart and lungs), and eroding the enamel of the teeth.

Identifying Body Image Disturbances

Anyone can develop disordered eating. Some people have a higher risk for developing disordered eating, including:

  • People who are in occupations, in living situations, or who participate in activities where there is a focus on appearance
  • People who are depressed
  • People who have a relative with an eating disorder
  • People who come from dysfunctional families
  • Survivors of sexual abuse
  • Children of alcoholic parents
  • Survivors of sexual assault
  • People who have other compulsive behaviors
  • Women
  • High-achievers
  • Athletes
  • Gay men


Relationship between body image disturbance and eating disorders