Self Esteem and Body Image

How to be more realistic about how you look.

We all have self-doubt and one of the areas we doubt is our body image. It doesn’t matter what we look like, it’s probably not the way we think we should look. Now, on the one hand, I’m all for self-improvement. On the other, it’s not ok to go overboard. As with everything, balance is needed.

My book The Humanist Approach to Happiness: Practical Wisdom, which is a book for tweens and teens to discuss with their parents, has a section on body image for both boys and girls. Taking a realistic view of what a body should look like.

I encourage girls to look at Renaissance era paintings to get a better idea of what a real woman’s body looks like or should look like – plump by today’s standards. With boys – I encourage them to look at film stars of the 30s. Buff but not ripped like today’s implanted surgically altered heros.

I also discuss what scientists know about physical attraction as well, since that is actually tied to scent (having to do with genetic compatibility). The overall message is that obsessing on your looks is counterproductive to your real goal which is to be attractive to others. To be attractive, you need to be nice and you need to smile on occasion.

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