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Be Body Positive This Summer

Does the summer fill you with dread, thinking about showing more skin when you’re not feeling that great about yourself? A lot of people of all genders suffer from negative body image. It’s normal. We’re here to try and boost your self-esteem and promote a bit of body positivity this summer.

This article is also available in Welsh. I ddarllen y cynnwys yma yn Gymraeg  – clicia yma

What is body image?

Body image is the way that you think about your body. Having a negative body image means you are unhappy with how you look in one way or another. This could be your weight, looks, shape, disability, scars, birthmarks, gender and lots more. It can be influenced by friends, family, culture, media and past experiences. 

With people spending hours online and on different social media platforms daily, it’s easy to get sucked into the unrealistic and unachievable images shared on various accounts. It’s easy to start comparing yourself to these ‘perfect’ people. 

Some people who suffer from negative body image might try to hide the things they don’t like about themselves with make-up or clothes. Some people may suffer from body dysmorphia, a mental health condition where a person obsesses about their appearance, things that other people probably don’t see.

Cartoon young man wearing red t-shirt, black trousers and dark sunglasses looking at his body in the mirror, smiling, pointing at himself with heart emoji beside him.

Flip those thoughts

What if we decide to say no to what the media chooses to be ‘perfect’? 

Just because someone looks thin and happy on social media doesn’t mean they follow a healthy diet or don’t feel miserable behind that smile for the camera. Instagram happiness does not equal happiness in real life. Being ‘slim’, ‘pretty’ or having ‘killer abs’ does not equal ‘happy’ and ‘healthy’. People only share the good things on social media. They don’t tend to share that unflattering angle or when they have a bogey hanging out of their nose. 

You don’t have to look a certain way to feel worthy or loved. The images you see on social media can’t be copied because they aren’t real and don’t represent the real world. 

Cartoon young girl pointing at herself with hearts around her and speech bubbles beside her with a thumbs up and a star representing social media.

Tips to be happier with the way you look

  • Don’t compare yourself to people in the media – they have a lot of make-up, surgery or digital touch-ups to help with that ‘perfect’ look
  • Ditch social media accounts that make you feel rubbish – don’t follow someone that makes you feel miserable about yourself 
  • Follow accounts that share realistic body images and promote a healthy lifestyle – there are plenty out there if you look for them
  • Ditch people that make you feel rubbish about yourself, and surround yourself with people that support you rather than pull you down. If this isn’t possible, then tell them how they make you feel
  • Be kind to yourself – stop putting yourself down
  • Focus on the things you like about yourself rather than fixating on the things you hate. Make a list of the good things and take a look at it when you are feeling down about yourself
  • Talk to someone – Read our blog, How to Start a Conversation to Share a Problem, or call us on the Meic helpline if you need to talk, text or online chat
  • You’re more than how you look – people will like you for much more than your looks. Things like being kind, helpful, fun, a good friend etc. are far more important
  • Look at other people and notice the differences. Most people won’t give a second thought to the way you look. What a strange world it would be if we were all the same!
Cartoon image of two plasters crossing with  heart image on the top plaster

Health issues 

If you are worried about the way you look for health reasons, then get support. The best place to start is probably to contact your GP. They can ensure you get all the nutrients and vitamins you need from a balanced diet as your body is still developing. Check out the Live Well page on the NHS website. There’s lots of information about mental health, healthy weight, exercise, sleep, eating well, alcohol, smoking, addiction and sexual health.

Exercise is a great way to boost your self-esteem and get healthy. It doesn’t have to mean expensive gym memberships. Check out the exercise guidelines and workouts on the NHS Live Well pages. It can be overwhelming to start exercising if you haven’t really done any before. Start small and build your fitness up, like going for a walk every day. Take a friend or family member if you’re nervous about exercising alone. Getting fit while socialising can make it feel like less of a chore.

If your negative body image has led to you harming yourself somehow, get help. Mind has some great advice on their website about coping with self-harm if you are a young person.

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, then Beat can offer information and support on their website and helpline – 0808 801 0433.

If you want to talk about anything that’s worrying you, free and confidential, Meic is here for you every day between 8am and midnight. Call, text or chat with us online. We can help you find the help that you need.

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