What is body image?
Body image is how we think and feel about ourselves physically, and how we believe others see us.
During adolescence and puberty, your brain and body go through huge changes. Your body releases hormones which make you more aware of how you look, and more aware of other people’s bodies. These changes happen to everyone, and can sometimes make you feel out of control or anxious.
What to do if you're worried about how you look
Many people feel insecure about the way they look at some point in their lives. It's important to remember that there isn’t a single type of beauty - everyone sees it differently. And there simply isn’t a right or a wrong way to look. But if you're struggling, here are some things you can do:
- Be kind to yourself and try not to compare yourself to the many images you see online and in magazines, which are often digitally changed to make them look ‘perfect’ – they don’t reflect how people look in real life.
- Focus on the things you like about yourself, and the parts of your body that you like.
- Spend time with people who make you feel positive about yourself. It might help you to write down the nice things people say to you, and not just about how you look. Remember, people value you for many reasons.
- Think about what advice you would give a friend if they told you they were struggling with the way they look, and remember that advice whenever you start having negative thoughts.
- Talk to someone you trust. It could be your parents or wider family members, like older cousins, aunts or uncles. Outside home, it could be a teacher, a neighbour, close family friend or someone from a club you attend.
If you feel unable to cope, or particularly worried about one part of your body, talk to your GP about how you’re feeling. They can listen, tell you about local services and support groups or they may suggest specific treatment for the way you’re feeling.
Tips and advice from our bloggers and Activists
Our bloggers and Activists share their tips and advice for dealing with body image issues:
"We need to realise that behind the ‘perfect bodies’ that we see on Instagram are often personal trainers, specially-planned diets, makeup artists, fashion designers, and Photoshop! What you typically see in magazines, on TV and on social media, is not real."
"I recommend writing a list of the things that you like about yourself. Even just one thing a day can help improve how you think about your body."
"Ultimately, true beauty is not about how you look. It’s about how you are as a person and how you make others feel about themselves."
"Body confidence doesn’t come from trying to achieve the ‘perfect’ body that the media tell you to have. Body confidence comes from embracing the body you’ve already got."
"I found that looking in the mirror and saying something that I liked about myself really helped. Yes, it may be difficult to start with, but this will slowly start to rebuild your mental health in terms of being happy in your own skin."
For more advice and tips on dealing with body image issues, have a look at our blogs:
How you can support a friend
Talk to them and encourage them to focus on what they like about themselves and what they can do – not just how they look. Help them to see all their good points and the things you like about them – these can be simple things, like being a good sport, a caring friend or making people laugh. And if you think they’re feeling overwhelmed, encourage them to see their GP for professional help.
Where to get help
- provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis - just text YM to 85258
- all texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors
- texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus
- a place for you to get advice and information about counselling in the UK, if you're aged 12-25.
- if you're under 25 you can talk to The Mix for free on the phone, by email or on their webchat. You can also use their phone counselling service, or get more information on support services you might need.
- freephone: 0808 808 4994 (1pm - 11pm daily)
- if you have an eating disorder, or someone in your family does, b-eat is the place you can go to for information and support.
- helpline number for under 25s: 0808 801 0711 (Daily 3pm - 10pm)
- email: [email protected]
- to know what local help and support you can get, put your postcode into HelpFinder
Anorexia and Bulimia Care
- if you're being affected by an eating disorder, you can ring the helpline.
- helpline: 03000 11 12 13 (option 1: support line, option 2: family and friends)
Men Get Eating Disorders Too
- information and advice for men on eating disorders.