By Dr. Charlotte Markey

Take a moment and think about all the things your body does in a day.  There are the basic functions:  breathing, walking, sleeping.There are also more complex functions:  thinking, talking with other people, playing soccer.  We tend to take for granted that our bodies will allow us to do these things (until we become ill or injured).  And, we’re rarely grateful that our body allows us to do both the basic and more complex functions it does each day.

These body functions are what our body is designed to do.  However, we see cultural messages every day that suggest that how our body looksis what is most important about it. Your Instagram stories are more likely to contain images of washboard abs or make-up tips than images of people sleeping (one of our bodies’ most important functions!).  Unfortunately, when we spend a lot of time focused on how our body looks, we tend to feel dissatisfied with our appearance.  The reason for this is that there always seems to be something else we can do to try to improve or “fix” our appearance.   Products and procedures are constantly being created and sold – and their marketing campaigns rely on teaching us that we are not OK the way we are.

Instead of using our energy to focus on our appearance and how to change it, research suggests it is healthier to focus on our functionality – at least some of the time.  One way to shift our thoughts towards our bodies’ functionality is to use a basic writing and reflection task designed by body image scientists.

Create a list of 10 positive statements about what your body does for you.  Read over your list, reflect on the items you came up with, and consider why these are meaningful to you.  For example, it is meaningful to me that my body allows me to run (running is what I most often do for exercise and I run with friends, so this is part of my social life, too).  I remind myself of this whenever I think to feel badly about how my legs look.

This task may take you less than 10 minutes to complete (although it is even better if you spend more time really thinking about all of this).  However, researchers have found that this task is likely to improve how you think about your body and may even make you feel grateful for all of the amazing things your body is capable of.  It is valuable to develop a connection with your body – something body image scientists refer to as embodiment – and to feel grateful for your unique body.

It is easy to believe that being taller or buying new clothes are required for body satisfaction.

There are endless products, plans, and prescriptions marketed to all of us as remedies for body dissatisfaction.  However, our views of our body are psychological and more likely to be improved by altering the way we think than by buying cosmetics or clothes.

Being grateful for your body is important if you are to take good care of your body and ensure that it is able to take you on many wonderful adventures across your life.


Dr. Charlotte Markey. Psychologist, professor and scientist, Dr. Markey has been a leading body image expert for more than two decades. Now, Dr. Markey applies her academic research, her findings after interviewing hundreds of girls, and her practical experience as mother of a teen to a new, evidence-based yet easy-to-read book for girls ages 9yrs -15yrs. THE BODY IMAGE BOOK FOR GIRLS: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless