How You View Your Body

Exploring who you are today

By Arlene Harder, MA, MFT and John Fabian, Ph.D.

Influences

The questions in this subsection can help you uncover the source of a distorted body image. On the other hand, they may help you see how you were able to prevent society’s presentation of only a certain size—small for women—become the ideal against which you must view yourself.

Incidentally, some of these questions were suggested by the Real Women Project, which creates sculptures of women of many shapes and sizes.

Topic Stimulators

Origin of Your Ideal Body Image — For Women

  • Who has made you feel the most beautiful physically and what did he or she do or say? What would you say to that person today?
  • Who contributed most to your feeling uneasy and dissatisfied with your body and what did he or she say? What would you say to that person today?
  • If you could change something about your body, what would you change? How do you imagine this change would impact my life?
  • What woman had the greatest positive impact on you growing up? How much of her influence was related to the size or shape of her body?

Origin of Your Ideal Body Image – For Men

Although men are less likely to be concerned about their looks than women, men are also influenced by society’s standards for how they “should” present themselves.

  • What three words come to mind when you hear the word “handsome”?
  • Do you believe society considers the way men look to be very important, not important enough, or just about right? Why?
  • Who in your life has made you feel the most handsome physically and what did he or she do or say? What would you say to that people today?
  • Who in your life has made you feel bad about your body and what did he or she do or say? What would you say to that person today?
  • What man had the greatest positive impact on you growing up? How much of his influence was related to his size or physical appearance?