Why are so many women unhappy with their bodies? Women in the U.S. are under pressure to measure up to a certain social and cultural ideal of beauty, which can lead to poor body image. We are bombarded with media images of female bodies that are extremely thin and with flawless features. These images can reinforce an already negative image a woman might have of her body, leading her to believe she is overweight and not able to meet the American standard.

Other pressure can come from people in our lives. Family and friends can influence a woman’s body image with positive and negative comments. Doctors can also have a powerful impact on body image. Their comments, in particular, might be delivered as health advice but can be misinterpreted and affect how a woman perceives and feels about her body. As a result, the way women feel about their bodies can impact their physical and emotional health. Women with a poor body image may try to lose weight in unhealthy ways, restrict their eating, develop eating disorders, and have low self-esteem.

Despite these challenges, there are things women can do to overcome these challenges and feel better about themselves:

  • Replace your negative thoughts with positive ones. Focus on things you like about yourself.
  • Surround yourself with people who have a healthy perspective about food, weight, and their bodies.
  • Eat healthy foods. This can help your body get healthier.
  • Get active. Women of all sizes can be active. Exercise can help you feel better about your body and give you more energy.