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Do you ever wish you could change something about your body? If so, you're not alone. Lots of people feel unhappy with some part of their looks. But when you get stuck on what you don't like, it can really bring down your self-esteem.

You don't need a perfect body to have a good body image. When you like your body as it is, right now, you boost your body image. And your self-esteem too.

What Does Body Image Mean?

Your body image is the way you think about your body. This includes your thoughts and feelings about it. These can be good or bad and can change from time to time.

How Can I Accept the Way I Look?

Some people think they need to get in better shape to have a good body image. They think, “When I get in better shape, I’ll like my body.” But it’s best to start the other way around. Accept yourself first. Here are ways to do that:

  • Realize that nobody’s perfect. Everyone has "flaws," even people with seemingly ideal figures. So see your body the way it is rather than the way you want it to be.
  • Don’t body-shame yourself. When you make harsh comments about your own body, it harms your self-esteem. That’s true whether you say something out loud or think it to yourself. It can hurt as much as if someone else said it. So be kind and respectful to yourself. Ask, “Would I talk this way to my best friend?” Treat yourself like a good friend would.
  • Don’t compare yourself with other people. The saying goes “comparison is the thief of joy.” Find things to like about your own body and be thankful for all the great things it can do.
  • Accept compliments. When someone gives you a compliment, say “thank you” instead of not believing what’s being said.

How Can I Like My Body?

When you accept your body, it’s possible to learn to love (or at least like) what you have. Here’s how:

  • Find things to like about your looks. Every time you look in the mirror, find at least two things you like about yourself. Maybe your hair, face, or hands. What about your shape, shoulders, or legs? Your eyes or smile? Make a habit of telling yourself what you like and why. If you get stuck, ask someone who cares about you, like a good friend or trusted adult. Know that there’s lots to like about you. Let yourself feel good.
  • Focus on what your body can do. There’s more to your body than your looks. When you play a sport, walk, run, dance, or swim — that’s your body in action. Your body is there for you when you stretch, reach, climb, or jump for joy. It also allows you to you carry and build things, and give someone a hug. Be amazed and thankful.
  • Be aware of your body. Pay attention to your body as you go through the day. Enjoy the way it feels when you walk, run, and play. Listen to it when it needs food or rest. Things like yoga can help you observe your body more closely, teaching you to pay attention to how you breathe and move.

How Can I Take Care of My Body?

Taking good care of your body can make you feel better about it. Start caring for yourself with these tips: 

  • Eat healthy foods. Learn what foods are good for you and how much is the right amount. Take your time when you eat. Really taste your food and enjoy it. Eating right helps you look your best and boosts your body image. It also gives you the energy you need. When you treat your body right, you feel good about yourself.
  • Get good sleep. Learn how much sleep you need for your age and get to bed on time. Turn off screens hours before bedtime so you can sleep well.
  • Be active every day. Your body needs to move to be strong, fit, and healthy. Be active by playing a sport. You can also run, walk, work out, do yoga, or dance. Pick activities you like and have fun.
  • Keep a healthy weight. Being at a healthy weight is good for you, and it helps you feel good about your body. Don’t compare your weight with someone else’s. Your doctor can tell you what you should weigh. If you’re not at a healthy weight, don’t try to change your diet on your own. Always talk with a parent or doctor first. Your doctor can suggest ways to reach and stay at a weight that’s right for you.

What if I Need Help With My Body Image or Self-Esteem?

Sometimes, body image or self-esteem problems are too much to handle alone. Health issues, depression, or trauma can affect how you feel about yourself. And eating disorders can cause a poor body image that isn’t true.

Tell a parent, doctor, or therapist what you’re going through. Ask for help. Body image and self-esteem can get better with help and care.

Medically reviewed by: Beth C. Long, PsyD
Date reviewed: June 2023