Using le, la, les with body parts and clothing (definite articles)

Unlike in English, when referring to someone's own body parts (or own pieces of clothing, such as pockets, clothes...), in French the definite article (le,la,l',les) is used rather than the possessive adjective (ma,mon, sa, son etc).

Ils ont les yeux fermésThey have their eyes closed

Nous sommes rentrés, les vêtements tout sales et les cheveux en bataille.We came home, our clothes all dirty and our hair ruffled.

Croisons les doigts !Fingers crossed! / Let's cross our fingers!

J’ai mal à la têteMy head hurts

Tu as les mains dans les poches.You've got your hands in your pockets.

NOTE: You can also use the reflexive version of the verb when it exists (laver = to wash -> se laver = to wash oneself) to make the owner more clear:

Je me lave les piedsI'm washing my feet

Nous nous grattons la têteWe're scratching our heads

Tu t'es cassé le brasYou broke your arm

Il se brosse les dentsHe's brushing his teeth

ATTENTION: Using the reflexive form doesn't work systematically, especially when the reflexive form has a different meaning to the simple form, like lever = to lift/raise  vs  se lever = to get up.
In this case, you'll simply use the verb lever with the definite article: for French people, the possessive meaning would be obvious, unless a clear context states otherwise.

Jean lève la mainJean raises his hand

Le garçon a levé la tête du poisson mort pour la couper.The boy lifted the head of the dead fish to cut it.

Elle a baissé la têteShe lowered her head


Note that it applies also to animals' bodies:

Mon chien agite la queue quand il me voit.My dog wags his tail when he sees me.
 

As usual, there are special cases that don't follow that rule:
See Using mon, ma, mes, etc with parts of the body (possessive adjectives) .

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Examples and resources

Il se brosse les dentsHe's brushing his teeth
Le garçon a levé la tête du poisson mort pour la couper.The boy lifted the head of the dead fish to cut it.
J’ai mal à la têteMy head hurts
Mon chien agite la queue quand il me voit.My dog wags his tail when he sees me.
Chuck Berry avait vraiment le rythme dans la peau.Chuck Berry really had rhythm in his blood.
Je me lave les piedsI'm washing my feet
Croisons les doigts !Fingers crossed! / Let's cross our fingers!
Vous vous faites les onglesYou're doing your nails
Nous sommes rentrés, les vêtements tout sales et les cheveux en bataille.We came home, our clothes all dirty and our hair ruffled.
De nos jours, c'est mieux si on a des yeux derrière la tête.Nowadays, it's better if we have eyes in the back of our heads.
Elle a baissé la têteShe lowered her head
Nous nous grattons la têteWe're scratching our heads
Tu as les mains dans les poches.You've got your hands in your pockets.
Ils ont les yeux fermésThey have their eyes closed
Tu t'es cassé le brasYou broke your arm
Jean lève la mainJean raises his hand
Clever stuff underway!