Poor Body Image and Body Dissatisfaction

Let’s begin by delving into the concept of poor body image. Poor body image also known as body dissatisfaction refers to the presence of negative cognitions or thoughts, emotions, and perceptions surrounding an individual’s body size, shape, weight, or overall appearance. When someone grapples with poor body image, they tend to harbour critical self-evaluations, often resulting in feelings of discontent, insecurity, and reduced self-worth. These adverse self-perceptions can cast an influence over multiple facets of their life, encompassing their relationship with food, engagement in physical activities, and their broader psychological well-being.

Poor body image and when to seek support

The cognitive signs of body dissatisfaction: 

  • Negative self-perception related to body size, shape, weight, or appearance
  • Constant preoccupation with perceived flaws or imperfections
  • Frequent comparison of oneself to others, often leading to negative self-evaluation
  • Excessive self-criticism and self-blame regarding body-related concerns
  • Persistent thoughts of dissatisfaction and distress related to one’s body

The emotional signs of body dissatisfaction: 

  • Low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy due to body dissatisfaction
  • Heightened anxiety and worry, especially in social situations involving appearance
  • Depressive symptoms such as persistent sadness and hopelessness tied to body image
  • Experiencing shame, embarrassment, or guilt about one’s body
  • Emotional sensitivity to comments or judgments about appearance

The behavioural signs of body dissatisfaction: 

  • Avoidance of activities or situations that involve revealing the body
  • Excessive covering up through clothing choices to hide specific areas
  • Engaging in compulsive exercise or extreme dieting behaviours
  • Isolation from social interactions due to self-consciousness
  • Frequent mirror checking and body inspection

The negative impact of body dissatisfaction: 

Individuals with negative body image often experience heightened rates of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and an obsession or preoccupation with weight loss. This predicament frequently leads to unhealthy dietary behaviours, elevating the risk of developing eating disorders.

Even subtle attempts at dieting has been found to elevate the risk of developing an eating disorder, particularly among adolescent populations. Approximately, 80% of individuals identifying as female in Australia reported experiencing some degree of dissatisfaction with their bodies.

As poor body image often accompanies unhelpful dieting behaviours, the risk of developing an eating disorder significantly increases

How can treatment with an eating disorder specialist help me?

Establishing a Healthy Relationship with Food: Many individuals seek therapy to establish a healthy relationship with food, free from constant preoccupation. This will require understanding checking behaviours to reduce this preoccupation, as well as how to introduce regular eating habits. In addition, a positive body image plays a role in achieving this goal, enabling individuals to navigate everyday activities without the brain’s excessive fixation on the next meal or calorie count.


Greater Self-acceptance: Cultivating a positive body image can lead to increased self-acceptance, fostering a sense of comfort and contentment with one’s appearance. A reflection on values is also vital in cultivating acceptance, to ensure your life is balanced to include activities that provide you a sense of purpose and reflect on your inner-values. This also renders individuals less susceptible to the influence of unrealistic portrayals in social media, magazines, TV, and societal expectations regarding appearance.


Promotion of Healthy Outlook and Behaviours: A positive body image can encourage the adoption of healthier outlooks and behaviours, creating a foundation for a balanced lifestyle with constructive attitudes and practices concerning food and exercise. Being attuned too and responsive to the body’s needs becomes more feasible.

Enhanced Self-esteem: A positive body image has the potential to enhance self-esteem, influencing an individual’s overall feelings about themselves and impacting various aspects of their life, contributing to overall well-being and happiness.

How to choose a Melbourne eating disorder specialist?

It is important to look for an eating disorder therapist that has undergone specialist training. This might be through the Australia and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders (ANZED) as part of the Eating Disorder Credential Pathway. By engaging with a psychologist that has ongoing training in this area, you will gain confidence in your treatment approach.


How can Positive Wellbeing Psychology help?

At Positive Wellbeing Psychology, our Melbourne psychology practice comprises of highly skilled psychologists with specialist training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Eating Disorders (CBT-E). Our psychologists have undertaken training with ANZED and hold a special interest in the treatment of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders.

Have confidence knowing your eating disorder therapist collaborates closely with other specialist trained Allied Health professionals in Melbourne to establish a comprehensive care team dedicated to your well-being.

Make an Appointment

At Positive Wellbeing Psychology, we offer flexible appointments with our psychologists during the day, evening, or weekends, both in-person at our Melbourne psychology practice or online via telehealth.

believe in change and reach progress with a Melbourne psychologist

Our team of psychologists hold full registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and adhere to ethical guidelines as mandated by the Psychologists Registration Board and Australian Psychological Society. We are specialist trained in evidence-based eating disorder treatment, offering comprehensive support for body dissatisfaction, body dysmorphia, and eating disorders at our Melbourne psychology practice.