In many ways, the world has changed its perception of beauty. There are inclusive, self-love campaigns helping more people to challenge unrealistic beauty standards. But at the same time, our hyper-connected world also exposes us to more aesthetic ideals than ever before. In fact, it’s telling that the global beauty and personal care market was valued at 422.72 billion USD in 2020 and is expected to reach 558.12 billion USD by 2026.
Moreover, a recent report also highlights how this demand is partly driven by an ageing population seeking products that help them look young, fit, and beautiful. Alongside feel-good campaigns about loving ourselves, we also see plenty of products that encourage us to minimise wrinkles, lose more weight, or get lighter skin — a mixed message that can be discouraging at best and harmful at worst, especially for people who view their bodies negatively.
To combat this mindset and improve your body image, here are a few things to try:
1. Appreciate who you are
As discussed in a previous blog post, which you can read here, we argue that all love is conditional because all relationships are conditional. This is why we must learn to love ourselves — looks and all. And who we are goes beyond our appearance, so it’s time to stop basing our self-worth on how we look. Instead of looking at specific body parts, it’s better to refocus and view yourself as a whole person. If you’re concerned about how large your arms are, for example, think about how strong they are instead, so strong that they can carry heavy loads.
Moreover, true beauty is not skin-deep. You have so many positive qualities that can create an impact on the world. As long as you feel good about yourself and who you are, you can create a beautiful state of mind.
2. Redefine your idea of beauty
Sometimes, the makeup we choose to wear can affect how we see our bare face at the end of the day. You may even come to rely on cosmetics to feel confident. If you feel that you’re beginning to use makeup as a crutch, it would be best to stick to the basic, simple ones that enhance the features you have.
Avoid applying cakey cover-ups or wearing bright, shocking colours. Try a more natural approach with your brows, opt for gloss instead of lipstick, and wear a light tint instead of a blush-on. The only other necessary step is to make sure they all stay in place, and as this guide points out, an affordable setting spray will do the trick. Using lighter makeup can help you feel more comfortable with your bare face, while allowing others to see your natural features in their best light.
3. Commit to your health and happiness
Life is so much more than about the way we look, but the way we feel about our bodies can influence our mood and behaviours. Have you ever cancelled plans because you felt bad about yourself? Instead of isolating yourself because of a negative self-image, you have to make the choice and commit to living a happy, healthy life with no regrets.
Actively choose to do things that make you and your body feel better, even if it’s hard. Exercising, self-care, and socializing may not always be easy, but these activities can help you feel good about yourself. Getting enough nutrition is also essential, as this factsheet details. Adults should eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains to feel — and look — good.
4. Keep your internal dialogue positive
The hardest part of improving your body image is moving away from the negative thoughts you have about yourself. As much as possible, try not to compare your body to someone else’s. Although the effects of social media on self-esteem are still inconclusive, some studies do show that spending too much time looking at other people can make us feel worse about ourselves.
When negative thoughts and internal comparisons try to tear you down, it’s important to build yourself up with affirmations. List down everything you like about yourself that’s unrelated to your appearance, and add more to it when you discover something new. This list will help you remember all your good attributes, regardless of how you look.
Which of these 4 ways helped you improve your body image? Let me know in the comments section below.
Natasha West is a lifestyle and beauty editor whose focus is on self-love and acceptance. She has written for different women’s titles to promote empowerment and is an avid baker when she’s off work.