Self-Esteem and Body Image

Young women's version of this guide
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boy-smilingPeople tend to think that guys don’t worry as much about their appearance as girls do, but this isn’t true. Finding ways to be positive about your appearance is the key to building a healthy body image and good self-esteem.

What is body image?

Body image is based on your thoughts and feelings about the way your body looks. You may feel positively or negatively about the way your body looks to you.

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem relates to how much you like yourself, and how you recognize or appreciate your individual character, qualities, skills, and accomplishments. Like body image, self-esteem can also be based on how you think other people look at you as a person.

People who have low self-esteem:

  • May not feel confident about themselves or how they look
  • Have a hard time seeing that they are important and capable
  • May avoid social situations or trying new things

People with good self-esteem:

  • Have a positive, confident attitude about their body and mind
  • Can recognize their strengths, personal value and worth
  • May be more social and more willing to try new things

Why is good self-esteem important?

Good self-esteem helps you keep a positive outlook on life and makes you proud of the person you are.

Most teens with good self-esteem find life much more enjoyable. They tend to have better relationships with peers and adults, find it easier to deal with mistakes or disappointments, and are more likely to stick with a task until they succeed.

Good self-esteem gives you the:

  • Courage to try new things
  • Power to believe in yourself
  • Confidence to make healthy choices for your mind and body now and throughout your life

Is there anything I can do if my self esteem is low?

Everyone has had the experience of feeling bad about something. Your self-esteem can always be changed for the better!

  • Talk with someone who can offer encouragement and support, such as a close friend or relative who you trust, a teacher or a coach, or friends who may be going through similar experiences.
  • If you are uncomfortable talking about self-esteem issues, try activities you enjoy or feel you are good at.
  • If you are feeling very sad and discouraged most of the time, it’s important to contact your health care provider or a counselor. They can help you to find ways to cope.

What can I do to improve my body image?

One of the best ways to feel good about your body is to work on having a healthy one! Exercising and eating nutritious food are key to developing a strong and fit body, and a positive attitude towards yourself.

How can I develop a positive attitude?

A positive attitude can come by defining an identity for yourself that is not based on looks or negative things other people may say.

  • Focus on your unique qualities.
  • Focus on your education: Learning gives you the power to make a difference in your life and in the lives of others.
  • Participate in a variety of sports or activities: This can be a great way to stay healthy and fit and also make new friends.
  • Take up a new hobby or learn to play an instrument: Have you ever wanted to play the guitar? Maybe you want to learn how to play chess. Find your hidden talents!
  • Set and reach new goals: Having something to look forward to can give you a sense of pride and help you work through different challenges throughout your life.
  • Be an inspiration to others: If you’ve thought of your own ways to cope with social situations and find confidence, you may be able to help others.

Building a healthy body image and positive self-esteem can be hard work. It takes time to become confident. As you work to improve your body image, you will experience self-acceptance and learn to recognize the qualities, skills and talents that make you unique.

If you’re concerned about your self-esteem/body image, here’s a tip on how to bring it up with your health care provider: “I don’t like the way I look, how can I change it?”