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Body Image and Self-Esteem

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.

But what if I need to be in better shape? Some people think, "When I get in better shape, I'll like my body. But it's best to start the other way. First, accept your body. Find things to like about it. Take good care of your body. When you like your body, it's easier to treat it right.

Want to look and feel your best? Here are some tips:

Accept Your Body

  • Nobody's perfect. Everybody wants to be liked and accepted just as they are. That's true for every BODY, too! See your body the way it is. Be less of a critic. Be more of a friend.
  • Don't body-shame yourself. When you make harsh comments about your own body, it hurts your self-esteem. That's true whether you say it out loud or think it to yourself. It hurts just as much as if someone else said it. Be kind. Respect yourself, even if you have things to work on.
  • Build a better habit. Do you have a habit of putting your body down? To break that bad habit, build a good one in its place. Tell yourself what you like instead of what you don't. Keep doing it until it is a habit.

Like Your Body

  • Find things to like about your looks. Maybe you like your hair, face, or hands. What about your shape, shoulders, or legs? Your eyes or your smile? Tell yourself what you like and why. If you get stuck, think of what your good friends like about how you look. Accept those things. 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, swim — that's your body in action. Your body is there for you when you stretch, reach, climb, or jump for joy. When you carry things, build things, or give someone a hug. Be amazed. Be thankful.
  • Be aware of your body. Don't ignore your body as you go through the day. Learn to breathe slowly and calmly as you move and stretch. Learn to tell when your body needs food or rest. Enjoy the way your body feels when you walk, run, and play.

Take Care of Your Body

  • 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. Enjoy it. Eating right helps you look your best. It gives you the energy you need. And it boosts your body image. When you treat your body right, you feel good about yourself.
  • Get good sleep. Learn how much sleep you need for your age. 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. You can be active by playing a sport. You can run, walk, work out, do yoga, swim, or dance. Pick activities you like. Enjoy the fun you can have.
  • Keep to a healthy weight. Being a healthy weight is good for you. And it helps you feel good about your body. But don't try to diet on your own. Always talk to your parent or doctor. Your doctor can suggest ways you can keep to a weight that's right for you.

What If I Need Help With My Body Image and 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. 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.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: August 2018