Race and Identity Race and Mental Health 10 Ways to Feel Better About the Way You Look By Krystal Jagoo Krystal Jagoo Krystal Kavita Jagoo is a social worker, committed to anti-oppressive practice, who has worked for three academic institutions across Canada. Her essay, “Inclusive Reproductive Justice,” was in the Reproductive Justice Briefing Book. Learn about our editorial process Updated on May 01, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS Medically reviewed by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Verywell / Laura Porter Folx can struggle with how they look for any number of reasons. Sometimes these challenges may be captured with the use of such terms as body image or self-esteem. It can include concerns about one's appearance based on a variety of factors, including weight, gender dysphoria, disability, etc. According to a 2021 journal article based on a UK study of 506 adults aged 34 years on average, findings suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic may have contributed to an increase in body image concerns for folx of all genders. How to Improve Your Self-Esteem Body Image Research A 2015 journal article reviewed the efficacy of interventions to improve body image. It found that the following change techniques were associated with significant improvements in how people related to their bodies: Discuss how thoughts play a role in how individuals relate to their bodiesTeach techniques to monitor and restructure cognitionsAddress negative body languageEngage in guided imagery exercisesRely on exposure exercisesMake use of size-estimate exercisesProvide strategies for preventing relapseTeach stress management techniquesEducate people on the concept of body imageDeconstruct factors that can cause negative body imageExplore how negative body image can impact peopleReview the behavioral expression of negative body image 10 Ways to Feel Better About the Way You Look Exploring the work of poet and activist Sonya Renee Taylor can be integral to any attempt at feeling better about how you look. Taylor promotes "Radical Self-Love," a framework that incorporates many evidence-based strategies that have been demonstrated to be effective for improving body image. Sonya Renee Taylor Living in a female body, a Black body, an aging body, a fat body, a body with mental illness is to awaken daily to a planet that expects a certain set of apologies to already live on our tongues. There is a level of 'not enough' or 'too much' sewn into these strands of difference. — Sonya Renee Taylor By deconstructing how oppressive systems fuel the ways in which folx can be critical of how they look, it becomes easy to see the factors that make it extremely difficult to embrace radical body love. In her book, The Body Is Not An Apology, Taylor recommends the following 10 tools as part of a larger framework to combat the harms of body shame. Dump the Junk With this approach, folx are encouraged to reject media messages that can make them more critical of their bodies, including European beauty standards, binary gender, ableist expectations, fatphobic norms, etc. Tip: It may help to think about one critical message to reject daily. Curb Body Badmouthing Through this strategy, it is recommended that folx challenge the negative ways in which they can sometimes talk about their bodies, given the devastating impact that can have on how they feel about themselves. Tip: Enacting this practice into your daily life might look like making the decision to use more neutral words to describe body parts. Reframe the Framework By deconstructing how people often relate to their body as an enemy, especially when dealing with health concerns that may feel out of control, it is encouraged to challenge that approach by allying with their body. Tip: Forming an alliance with your body may mean devising more realistic expectations of your body. Meditate on a New Mantra Through the repetition of affirmations that promote radical body love, folx can combat the implicit and explicit ways in which body shame is often fueled by oppressive forces from settler colonialism to white supremacy. Tip: Maybe you could say, "I am enough even when it feels like a struggle." Banishing the Binary By challenging binary understandings of their intersectional identities, people are better able to accept all that they offer more unapologetically given how often there can be tensions in between extremes in which they often exist. Tip: You can work on avoiding words like "always", "never", and "should." Explore Your Terrain Through radical body love, folx are encouraged to explore their bodies as a part of the process to reconnect with themselves and what they need to live more freely in a world that can usually place many limitations on them. Tip: As an example, you could focus on moisturizing your skin on a daily basis. Be in Movement By embracing the joy of movement, individuals are equipped to reclaim their bodies as a space of liberation, rather than a site of oppression that can often be dictated by societal expectations that contribute to more body shame. Tip: To help bring more intentional movement into your life, you might try dancing in the rain or jumping rope. Make a New Story Through reimagined narratives, folx are encouraged to rewrite stories in which they can rescue themselves from body shame through new realms of their own making which allow opportunities for growth and development. That may mean trying a new approach to how you relate to your body. Tip: Purchase a journal where you can feel free to rewrite and create a healthier image of yourself. Be in Community Through acts of vulnerability, folx can benefit from a sense of community that can help to promote radical body love, in stark contrast to the body shame that can be fueled by isolation from connections with others. Tip: To foster a sense of connectedness, it might be helpful to seek out and embrace new folx similar lived experiences. Give Yourself Some Grace By meeting themselves with compassion even when it proves difficult to challenge body shame in a world that profits from it, people are encouraged to continue doing the much-needed work of embracing radical body love. This final tool refers to the ongoing compassion needed for you to do this work. Tip: Try to talk to and treat yourself as you would a friend or loved one. A Word From Verywell While these approaches to feeling better about how you look may not be what initially comes to mind, these recommendations align well with empirically validated interventions for improving the body image of folx. Given how often critical ways of relating to your body are a direct result of negative feedback that influences your thought patterns, these 10 tools for radical self-love are well worth the effort of challenging conventional ways of relating to your body with shame through the lens of oppressive systems. 3 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Swami V, Horne G, Furnham A. COVID-19-related stress and anxiety are associated with negative body image in adults from the United Kingdom. Pers Individ Dif. 2021;170:110426. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2020.110426 Alleva J, Sheeran P, Webb T, Martijn C, Miles E. A meta-analytic review of stand-alone interventions to improve body image. PLoS One. 2015;10(9):e0139177. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0139177 Taylor S. The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power Of Radical Self-Love. 1st ed. Oakland: Berrett-Koehler; 2018. By Krystal Jagoo Krystal Kavita Jagoo is a social worker, committed to anti-oppressive practice. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.