Self-compassion trumps self-esteem for body image

Posted on October 1, 2014

University of Waterloo investigators discovered women who accept and tolerate their imperfections appear to have a more positive body image despite their body mass index (BMI). The positive body image appears to protect girls and young women against unhealthy weight-control practices and eating disorders.

Self-compassion is to have a high level of acceptance and understanding of oneself that helps people not necessarily view their bodies more positively, but rather acknowledge their bodies’ imperfections and be OK with them. Self-esteem, on the other hand, comes from evaluating oneself as above-average, and so may be limited in helping individuals cope with perceived shortcomings.

Regardless of their weight, women with higher self-compassion have better body image and fewer concerns about weight, body shape, or eating. Women may experience a more positive body image and better eating habits if they approach disappointments and distress with kindness and the recognition that these struggles are a normal part of life. How we treat ourselves during difficult times that may seem unrelated to our bodies and eating seems to have a bearing on how we feel about our bodies and our relationship with food.

The research results suggest that eating disorder prevention and health promotion that focus on increasing young women’s self-compassion may be an important way to foster healthier weight management across the BMI spectrum.

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Category(s):Eating Disorders

Source material from Psych Central