What to do if you’re worried about how you look
Learn how to deal with negative self-talk, embrace your unique qualities, and focus on self-care practices that make you feel good inside and out.
Caring about your appearance is an entirely normal thing. You might get bored of your hairstyle and fancy a change, or want to experiment with different fashion trends. That’s all part of growing up and finding your individuality. However, you might find yourself constantly worrying about the way that you look to the point where it’s affecting your confidence and happiness. Sadly, this is becoming more and more common in young teens, so you’re not alone if you feel this way. Thankfully though, there are things you can do to help you start to accept and love the way that you look.
Don’t compare yourself to social media influencers
Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok...they all have loads of fun filters to play around with, such as turning your face into a cute puppy or adding an angel halo above your head. However, they also have unrealistic beauty filters that make faces slimmer, lips bigger or skin absolutely flawless. Loads of social media influencers use these filters but it’s not a true reflection of how they look. In real life, people have pores, freckles, dark circles, moles, spots, blackheads and blemishes. In real life, faces are unsymmetrical, jawlines aren’t always perfect and even the slimmest of people can have a double chin from certain angles! If you’re always comparing yourself to people online, just know that a lot of the time, you’re comparing yourself with an image that doesn’t actually exist.
Don’t compare yourself to celebrities
While a lot of celebrities are now against the use of Photoshop, there are many that still have their images heavily Photoshopped. The difference between social media filters and Photoshop is that pictures that have been Photoshopped can actually look quite real. This is damaging for young teens like you who look in the mirror and wish to look like their favourite celebrity. Whether it’s wanting to have a curvier or slimmer figure, or wanting to be muscly with a perfect six-pack, just remember that what you see isn’t always real. You can still be inspired by celebrities, but instead, try to focus on the work that they do rather than the way that they look.
Learn about your body
When you learn more about your body and all the amazing things that it does, this can help change the way you feel about it. Your body is much more than just the way that it looks or how much it weighs. It keeps you alive every day, each time you breathe in and out. Your heart is beating all the time keeping your alive. Your brain is always working to help you grow, learn and experience amazing things. Your body can heal from sickness and injury. That’s why you need to be kind to your body, love it, feed it healthy, nutritious food and treat it like the temple it is!
Speak kindly to yourself in the mirror
Sometimes, we speak to ourselves in a horrible way that we'd never dream of saying to someone else, such as “you are ugly”, “you are fat”, “you look disgusting”. These are all very hurtful things to say, and if they are said repeatedly to someone over a long period of time, that person will probably start to believe it’s true. That’s why you should never say these things to anyone, including yourself! Something to try every morning after brushing your teeth or getting ready is to look in the mirror and say a few positive, kind things to yourself. Even if at first you don’t believe it, keep saying nice things out loud to yourself every day, such as “I have nice eyes”, “this colour looks good on me”, “I like my smile”. This can help the brain learn to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones over time.
Be proud of who you are
Sometimes, children bully other children because they look different to them. You might have a different skin colour or ethnicity to the majority of kids in your school, or you might wear religious clothing that makes you stand out. These are never things to be ashamed of, but sadly, children sometimes bully other children because they look different to them. Remember that your identity is your superpower! It makes you special and unique. Learning more about your heritage or religion could help you feel more secure in your own skin. However, please talk to your foster parent, your social worker or a trusted teacher immediately if you are being bullied because of how you look. They’ll do all they can help put an end to it.
Look after yourself
Being a teenager or pre-teen can be difficult, especially when you’ve already experienced so much before entering foster care. Putting yourself first might not come easy to you, and you could feel uncomfortable giving yourself kindness and attention. But you deserve to feel good about yourself. From eating a balanced diet so you feel healthy, fit and strong to making sure you shower every day and wash your hair regularly, caring for yourself is a good place to start for feeling better about the way you look.
Ask for reassurance
If you are feeling down about how you look, there is nothing wrong with asking somebody that you trust for some reassurance. This could be a friend, a foster parent, or somebody else you feel comfortable with. The people who care about you will likely be sad to hear that you’re feeling this way, and will do all they can to boost your confidence. What’s important though is that you don’t rely on other people’s reassurance. It’s good to hear other people say nice things from time to time, but it’s even better when you can say these nice things to yourself all of the time.
Speak to somebody about how you feel
If the way you feel about your appearance is getting in the way of everyday life, such as concentrating at school or going out with friends, you need to tell somebody how you are feeling. Speak to a safe person like your foster parent, a social worker, or a teacher who you know will listen to you and understand where you are coming from. These people are there to help you, and they won’t think that you are silly for feeling this way. If anything, they have probably gone through similar things when they were younger too, so can help you work through these emotions and give their own advice.
Remember, it’s what’s on the inside that counts
This might sound cheesy but it’s true. Your weight, height, hair colour, face shape or body type doesn’t make you a good or bad person. It’s what’s on the inside that matters. Your kindness, your sense of humour, your goals and dreams for the future, how hardworking you are and how you treat others are the most important things to focus on. It’s also what people will notice and remember you for. When you concentrate on the things that make you a good person, you will start to feel better about yourself as a whole, which includes how you see yourself.
If you’re extremely upset, anxious or depressed about your body, or you’re being bullied because of the way you look, please speak to your foster parent, your social worker or a trusted teacher. Or, reach out to Childline for support. You don’t have to go through this alone.