Actions to improve how we feel about our bodies and help us protect, promote and maintain a positive body image throughout our lives
- If your body image is a significant cause of stress, or if you’re being bullied about how your body looks, consider talking to a friend, a trusted adult or a health professional.
It’s especially important to do this if you’re feeling any pressure to make drastic decisions – for instance, having cosmetic surgery, starting extreme dieting or trying drugs and supplements – or if you are having thoughts of harming yourself. At the bottom of this page, we have included a list of organisations you can contact directly for confidential support.
- Spring-clean your apps on your smartphone.
Be aware of how you feel when using them and if you find them stressful in relation to your body image, consider uninstalling them.
- Look at the people in the accounts you’re following on social media and be mindful of how you feel about your own body and appearance when you look at them.
Consider muting or unfollowing accounts or hashtags that cause you to feel negatively about your body or appearance or encourage you to compare yourself unfavourably to others. Be considerate of the impact of your posts on other people.
- If you see an advert in a magazine, on television, or online that you think presents an unhealthy body image as aspirational, you can complain to the Advertising Standards Authority.
This can start the process of investigation and action. Information on how to complain is set out here.
- At home, parents and carers can lead by example by modelling positive behaviour around body image, eating healthily and staying active.
You can: praise children for qualities unrelated to physical appearance; avoid criticising your own or other people’s appearance; and avoid placing unrealistic expectations on how people look. In addition, you can support children in expressing their emotions and communicating their feelings about their bodies.
- Our language is important. In our daily lives, we can all be more aware of the ways in which we speak about our own and other people’s bodies in casual conversations with friends and family.
Consistently saying things that reinforce youth and being slim as the essence of beauty (for instance: “I feel fat today”, “They don’t have the body to wear that”, “You look great, did you lose weight?”, “They look so old” or “It highlights my wrinkles”) may feel harmless at the moment, but can make us feel worse about our bodies in the long run.
- Find the best way that works for you to stay active.
A healthy amount of exercise every week can make us feel better about our bodies, encourage a good mood and decrease stress. But don’t overdo it. The best workout programmes are the ones you actually enjoy.