10 Ways to Feel Better About the Way You Look

Illustration of Sonya Renee Taylor, poet and activist, surrounded by helpful tips for folx struggling with body and self-image during the pandemic.

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.

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 bodies
  • Teach techniques to monitor and restructure cognitions
  • Address negative body language
  • Engage in guided imagery exercises
  • Rely on exposure exercises
  • Make use of size-estimate exercises
  • Provide strategies for preventing relapse
  • Teach stress management techniques
  • Educate people on the concept of body image
  • Deconstruct factors that can cause negative body image
  • Explore how negative body image can impact people
  • Review 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.
  1. Swami V, Horne G, Furnham A. COVID-19-related stress and anxiety are associated with negative body image in adults from the United KingdomPers Individ Dif. 2021;170:110426. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2020.110426

  2. Alleva J, Sheeran P, Webb T, Martijn C, Miles E. A meta-analytic review of stand-alone interventions to improve body imagePLoS One. 2015;10(9):e0139177. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0139177

  3. 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.