UT University Health Services

Body Image

Consider the Following:

Research suggests that images of unrealistic body shapes and sizes in the media contribute to body dissatisfaction for men and women of all ages.

Being your best may start with creating realistic perceptions of what "healthy" and "normal" look like.

For women:

  • Female models in the U.S. average a size 0 or 00. Most of these models are between age 14-19 and most have not yet developed into a woman's body.
  • Very few (if any) women are genetically capable of attaining the body shapes and sizes that are presented in the media. Even models don't look like the air-brushed images that are displayed in magazines and on billboards.
  • The average American woman is 5 feet 4 inches and weighs about 140 pounds. The average clothing size for women in the U.S. is between a 12-14.

It's important to remember that men are not immune to these issues. According to a recent body image study, 45% of men are dissatisfied with their physiques.

For men:

  • The "ideal man" maintains little to no body fat and has specific muscle groups that are over-developed.
  • The images presented by male models are unattainable for most men, regardless of hours spent in the gym.
  • Disordered eating and excessive exercise behaviors have become increasingly common among men.
  • Research shows that the average size for "real men" in America is a 44 versus the 40 regular of male models. The average height is 5 feet 9 inches and the average weight is about 162 pounds among American men.

*Remember: NO two bodies are created to look exactly the same; many people will fall above and many will fall below these averages and still be perfectly healthy.*

Other ways to improve body image include:

  • Be aware that many of the images you see in the media are unrealistic.
  • Offering affirmation to yourself and others who choose to accept realistic body types instead of the images presented in the media.
  • Challenging yourself and others to value people with strong character, integrity, and compassion regardless of body shape and size.
  • Allowing your body to find and stabilize at its natural set point weight and size while maintaining a balanced diet and activity plan to improve long-term health.

If you struggle with food, body, and/or exercise, help is available. Check out the Mindful Eating Program.

Check out the Mindful Eating Program

downloadGaining Weight Handout (PDF)

downloadLosing Weight Handout (PDF)

download adobe reader

Nutrition Links

Additional Nutrition Topics
Registered Dietitian Consultations
Mindful Eating Program
Nutrition Handouts
Nutrition Peer Led Workshops
On-Line Heart Health Class

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University Health Services is committed to providing high-quality care to patients of all ages, races, ethnicities, physical abilities or attributes, religions, sexual orientations, or gender identities/expression.


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