What’s the difference between body-esteem and self-esteem and how can you keep them in balance? We all have a certain degree of body-esteem and self-esteem and while the two may overlap, they are actually very different. When body-esteem is overvalued it can have a negative impact on overall self-esteem and self-worth. The key to improving self-esteem is focusing less on how you look and more on who you are.
Body-esteem is how you feel about your body – your hair, nails, shape, weight, etc.
Self-esteem is an umbrella concept which includes how you feel about:
personality – intelligent, good sense of humor, good listener, outspoken, etc.
relationships – loyal friend, good partner, good parent, etc.
accomplishments – good grades in school, career, athletic accomplishments, etc.
The problem is when your self-esteem is made up primarily of your body-image. Many people who struggle with negative body-image or disordered eating overemphasize their body-esteem which leads to an unbalanced self-esteem.
Here’s an example of a person who’s body-image is in healthy proportion to their overall self-esteem:
Here’s an example of a person who’s self-esteem is made up primarily of body-image:
As you can see, an over emphasis on the body directly takes away from other elements of self-esteem. A person may highly value being a good friend and parent or doing well in their career but their focus on their body is significantly taking away from those things. They might not be giving the attention to their children, spouse, or career that they could if they didn’t spend a majority of their time worrying about their appearance.
Activity – Create your own pie chart of self-esteem (including the portion for body image). Do you like what you see? Or, does it look like your body focus could be taking away from some of the other things you really value? Next, draw another pie chart for how you would like things to be – how much you could focus on other things if your body-image wasn’t taking up so much space.
Take some time to journal about what you found and what you could do to focus more on the other things that are important in your life. Maybe it’s spending more quality time with your significant other or spending time doing art and other hobbies.
“The work of self-love honors the voice of the heart. While we cannot always remove our critical voices or fully insulate ourselves from things beyond our control, we can choose what we take in. Self-love allows me to know I am exactly enough, just as I am. It is the voice I have learned to fine-tune like a radio station so that its kind and compassionate messages make the critical voices fade. Self-love protects my heart, despite the inevitable sorrows of life.” -Jessica Diaz from Embody
How would things be different if body image wasn’t the most important factor in your self-esteem?