When was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror and decided you liked what you saw?
Just 24% of American women say they like and accept their bodies, so if you worry about your looks, you aren’t alone.
Fortunately, you can learn to appreciate – and even love – your body.
Follow these 9 tips to boost your confidence:
1. Every time you look in the mirror, pick out three features you like
Standing in front of the mirror and trying to convince yourself that you like your appearance isn’t easy.
Rather than looking at your face and body as a whole, start small.
Find three things you like about your body, and take a moment to appreciate each in turn.
For example, you may not like your stomach, but what about your graceful wrists or large eyes?
2. Get rid of any clothes that are too small for you
Do you have any baggy, shapeless, or ill-fitting clothes lying around?
Have you kept pieces of clothing that are too small for you, in the hope that one day you’ll be able to squeeze into them again?
It’s time to get rid of anything that doesn’t flatter you, and accept your body’s current shape and size.
3. Revamp your personal style
Everyone feels more confident when they feel good about their personal style.
If you aren’t sure where to start, take a well-dressed friend with you when you next go shopping, or spend a few hours looking at outfit ideas online.
4. Make a list of everything your body does for you
We are taught to think about how our bodies look, not what they do for us on a day to day basis.
Set aside a few minutes to think about how your body helps you get through the day.
If you can talk, walk, hug someone, taste food, read, or type, take a few seconds to feel thankful for your body.
Make a list of at least 10 things your body does for you, and review it often.
5. Work towards a physical or sporting challenge
It’s great to feel attractive and receive compliments on your appearance, but improving your fitness and tackling a big challenge is uniquely empowering.
For example, training to run a marathon, lifting weights, or setting a distance goal in the swimming pool are just three ways you can appreciate your body and take pride in what it can do.
6. Focus on healthy habits, rather than numbers
Although it’s a good idea to stay within a healthy weight range, the number on the scale shouldn’t determine your happiness.
Think about your diet and exercise habits instead.
Do you need to drink more water?
Eat more fruit and vegetables?
Work out more often?
Try to frame these behaviors as valuable in themselves, not as a means of losing weight.
7. Find the beauty in others
How often do you judge other people?
Most of us do it from time to time.
We may automatically find ourselves thinking things like, “She’s too fat to wear that” or “Oh wow, her hair is a mess.”
The problem with making judgments is that it encourages us to judge ourselves.
By making a special effort to appreciate other peoples’ looks, we find it easier to love our own.
Every time you catch yourself passing judgment, replace it with a kind thought or compliment instead.
8. Address any major life problems
Sometimes, obsessing over your looks and trying to change your body can be a way to distract yourself from problems in other areas of your life.
For example, if you are unhappy in your job, you might start focusing your attention on calorie counting and dropping a few dress sizes instead of facing up to the problem.
The only solution is to identify what is really troubling you, and make a constructive plan to resolve the situation.
9. Start criticizing images of unattainable beauty
We are bombarded by images of slim, toned, young, perfectly styled people wherever we go.
However, these images are heavily edited; not even models really look like models.
If you find yourself feeling low about yourself after flicking through a magazine or scrolling through social media, remind yourself that it’s all a fantasy, usually published in an attempt to sell a product.
How to get further help
If your negative body image is starting to affect your relationships, work, or studies, reach out for professional help and support as soon as possible.
Contact your regular healthcare provider, a therapist, or a recognized charity such as the NEDA for assistance.