If you struggle with body confidence (really, who doesn’t?), body image affirmations can be a useful tool to improve your body image and help you worry less about your body.
Learning to accept your genetics and the natural changes that will inevitably occur in your body throughout your life is an important part of becoming an intuitive eater since for some people, letting go of diet rules may mean giving up dreams of a smaller body.
Read on to learn more about body image affirmations, how they can support you in improving your body image, and 40 body image affirmations to get you started.
Understanding the Basics of Body Image
Before we can dig into body affirmations, it’s helpful to get on the same page about the definition of body image.
According to the National Eating Disorder Collaborative (NEDC), body image is a combination of thoughts and feelings you have about your body. There are pillars of body image:
- Perceptual body image: the way you see yourself
- Affective body image: the way you feel about yourself, which often relates to how you feel about your weight, body size, or shape
- Cognitive body image: the way you think about yourself, which may include thinking about your body or weight often
- Behavioral body image, or the behaviors you engage in because of your body image, which may include dieting or exercising to lose weight or change your body
An important note: we are using the definition from NEDC, but this definition applies to anyone, including those without an eating disorder.
Body image affirmations can be a useful tool to shift all of the above types of body image, which we’ll explain further below.
What Are Positive Body Image Affirmations?
An affirmation, or a mantra, is a saying you can use to help ground you in a moment or as a daily saying to help change your thought process and beliefs about yourself.
They can be helpful for many things in life and I’ve found them to be particularly helpful in my private practice when helping women to improve their body image.
The four types of body image affirmations we use in my practice
- Body positive affirmations: affirmations that aim to help you love your body more and feel more positive about it regardless of its shape or size. If you’re in a space of really hating your body, these may feel very unapproachable to you.
- Gratitude affirmations: a more approachable form of positive body affirmations that help you move from seeing your body as an ornament that’s meant to look a certain way to an instrument that helps you achieve things.
- Body neutral affirmations: Affirmations that shift your value from your body to the many other things you offer as a human to this world. Ultimately they take the focus off of your body size so you can think about it less.
- Functional body image affirmations: A specific form of body neutral affirmations to remind you of all of the things your body does for you on a daily basis
How Body Image Affirmations Can Improve Your Body Confidence
If you’ve never used them, affirmations may sound a little woo-woo or like something used in counter culture. However, they’re actually a science-backed technique that can change neural pathways and truly shift how you think about yourself.
Body image affirmations are a helpful tool to shift how you feel about your body. Will they make you feel more confident overnight? No.
But when used in conjunction with other tactics like practicing body respect, it is possible to improve your body image over time and even get to a point of feeling confident in your body.
Here’s how affirmations can help with each of the four types of body image:
- Perceptual body image: by shifting your mindset about what is attractive, beautiful, or lovable, you can see your body for all it has to offer. You may also learn to focus on the parts of your body you really appreciate and love.
- Affective body image: affirmations can help change the way you feel about different parts of your body and help you feel more satisfied in the body you have.
- Cognitive body image: moving away from thinking about your body all the time and being able to move out of a challenging body moment more quickly.
- Behavioral body image: learning to respond to how you feel about your body with respect instead of through unhealthy behavior like restriction.
How to Use Body Image Affirmations
The two most helpful ways to use body image affirmations are as a daily practice and in a challenging body moment. But ultimately it’s up to you to use them how you’d like—there’s no right or wrong way to do it!
Creating a daily affirmation practice
Choose a time of day when you will repeat one affirmation that speaks to you. Morning is a great time because it sets the tone for the day. You may also like to do this in the evening as a way to close your day.
You’ll probably want to have a handful of affirmations that resonate with you to rotate for this. You may want one for each day of the week or month. You can choose from the list below or come up with your own.
Once you’ve chosen your affirmations, write them down. You can use a notebook, note cards, sticky notes, or the notes app in your phone. Just choose a form and place to store them that is easy to access.
At the time you’ve decided to practice saying your affirmations, just say it to yourself. It can be helpful, especially in the beginning, to look in the mirror and repeat it up to five times.
Rotate in new affirmations if the ones you’ve originally picked out don’t actually resonate as you use them.
Using body image affirmations during challenging body moments
Everyone experiences challenging body moments or days. It might be triggered by something obvious like looking in the mirror, trying on clothes that don’t fit, or seeing yourself in a picture.
Other triggers for negative body thoughts may not appear as related, but can still have as strong of an effect. This could include a particularly stressful day, a fight with a friend or family member, or the anticipation of an upcoming event.
When you notice yourself feeling particularly bad about your body, repeat one of the affirmations you’ve selected.
You may even want a different list of affirmations for these moments because you may need to hear something different when you’re feeling terrible about your body than you do at the start of your day.
Your phone is a great place to keep one to three affirmations that resonate with you because you never know when a negative moment will arise.
What to Expect When You Start Using Positive Body Image Affirmations
If using body image affirmations is a new idea for you, here’s what you can expect when you start.
It’s going to feel weird
Everyone’s experience with body image affirmations is unique. But most people feel a little strange and uncomfortable using them at first—this is normal!
If you’ve spent years (or even decades) bashing your body, shifting to positive or even neutral language is going to feel different. Don’t let this keep you from practicing.
When working with women in my practice on body image, I usually recommend they try affirmations for 30 days. If after that amount of time it’s not helpful, then it may not be a useful tool for you. Body image affirmations can be used by anybody, but that doesn’t mean they are helpful for everybody.
It takes time and practice to “work”
When you first start using affirmations or mantras, you may not even believe what you’re saying. It can even give you a little bit of imposter syndrome. Keep at it. Regularly repeating your affirmation will eventually change the way you think. It’s ok to fake it until you make it!
40 Affirmations to Support Positive Body Image
The following lists are ideas to get you started. Choose a few that resonate with you most and start practicing today.
Body Positive Affirmations
- My body is unique and does not need to look like anyone else’s
- I acknowledge my imperfections, and am at peace with them because they make me who I am—and that is amazing.
- No one has the power to make me feel bad about myself without my permission
- I am learning how to love my body
- My body has overcome many feats and shows its beauty
- I am allowed to take up space
- My body is worthy
- I am beautiful just the way I am
- My body is a gift
- I do not need to change my body
- Anyone who doesn’t see me for more than my body is not worthy of my time
- I’m grateful for all my body allows me to do
- I’m grateful for my [insert body part] can [insert what it does for you]
- My body is my home and I will build it up, not tear it down
- I don’t have to feel positive about my body to appreciate everything it does for me
- I am thankful for the food I eat for nourishing my body and giving me energy
- Thank you body for serving me in _____ way today
- Thank you body for taking care of me today
- I can have a challenging body image day and still show up for my body by [insert ways you take care of your body]. Need ideas? Check out 15 ways to respect your body.
Body neutral affirmations
- My worth has nothing to do with my appearance
- My worth is not defined by my weight. I define my worth and I am worthy.
- My value as a person has nothing to do with my body size or my weight
- I am enough, just as I am
- My body is deserving of love and respect
- My body deserved to be nourished even if I don’t love the way it looks
- Life doesn’t start X pounds from now. It’s happening now. I made the choice to include myself in it.
- I cannot change my body in this very moment, so there’s no sense dwelling on how I think I look.
- I will not sacrifice my wellbeing to be a certain size
- I am so much more than my body
- I am working towards accepting my changing body
Functional body image affirmations
- My body takes me places
- My body allows me to [insert something that resonates with you]
- My body is strong
- My arms give the best hugs
- My arms and body allow me to embrace my children when they need me
- My body/belly grew, carried, and nourished my children
- I take care of my body by [insert way you’re taking care of yourself such as nourishing it, hydrating, sleeping, resting, or moving]
- I trust my body knows what it needs. I can trust my hunger cues and when I need to eat.
- I take care of my body and it takes care of me
Want more support?
Body image affirmations are a great place to start, but won’t fix your body image alone. As a registered dietitian, certified intuitive eating counselor, and body image coach, I help women build a healthy relationship with food and their body. Learn more about the UNDIET Method and what it’s like to work with me.