Body image, in most modern definitions, involves two key elements: a mental picture of one’s physical body (including size, shape, and appearance), and one’s attitude toward the physical self (such as thoughts, feelings and beliefs about one’s body). Body image may change gradually and can be influenced by a number of social factors, such as culture, the media, and interactions with family and friends. It also often adapts to reflect new information, people, and experiences.
A negative or unhealthy body image can contribute to low self-esteem and affect well-being. When the mental image of one’s body or one’s attitude toward this image causes distress or interferes with function, a mental health professional may be able to help explore and address these concerns.
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