Learning to love the skin you're in

Ever had one of those mornings when nothing in your wardrobe fits right and looking at your reflection feels like being in a hall of mirrors at a funfair? When you just want to crawl back under the duvet and pretend the world doesn’t exist anymore? We’ve all been there!

It’s completely normal to have something you dislike about your appearance – no one’s perfect – but sometimes these negative feelings can start to take over and affect us on a daily basis. If this self-critique lasts for a long time and starts to impact on your confidence, self-esteem and the way you live your life, you may be battling with low body confidence.

We spoke to Cairo, Raul, Fatima and Bianca who have each dealt with their own body confidence issues, and found out how they learned to love the skin they’re in.

Let’s remind ourselves of those top tips.

Body confidence is a journey

Being body confident is a journey and feeling comfortable in your body won’t happen overnight.

You might want to make drastic changes, like Raul did: “I had loads of low points – trying to starve myself, no carbs, just clean meat”. But Raul found that he still wasn’t happy, even after he reached his goal. He learned that, instead of trying to change, he needed to accept himself. His advice is to:

Appreciate you right now – just be happy with how you are now – love yourself.

Comparison is the enemy of happiness

It’s human nature to compare yourself to others, but remember that no one is perfect. Even models and film stars who you might think look ‘perfect’ have things they would like to tweak about themselves!

It’s normal to have things that we might change, but these things shouldn't make us feel bad about ourselves, and they shouldn't cloud the things we do like about ourselves. Diet and exercise are important parts of a healthy lifestyle and being physically healthy plays a big part in being mentally healthy. But we should do these things because we're being kind to ourselves and it makes us feel good, not because we feel we have to.

A big part of looking good is feeling good on the inside. Realising we are who we are, imperfections and all, and accepting those imperfections, is such an important part of learning to be happy within ourselves. As Fatima explains:

"I felt like everyone was so different to me, because they were taller than me, but I came to realise everyone has their own battles and issues they are dealing with, mine just happened to be my height."

The world would be a very boring place if we all looked the same – embrace who you are and don’t simply focus on what’s on the outside! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it isn’t skin deep.

Press stop on negativity

If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself. One way Cairo built his self-confidence was by minimising negative self-talk:

"I really muted that, or pressed stop, to that and started to replace it with positive self-talk and self-love."

Unfortunately, negativity might also come from outside, from other people. Like Bianca says: “With physical differences, it can be an easier way for people to pick on you.”

Don't let people bring you down with their own negativity and don't stoop to their level: choose to lift people up, not knock them down.

"I thought, forget people’s opinions, I’m going to love myself, every inch of me, I’m going to love my scars and I’m just going to get on with it."

Work towards being proud of who you are and loving yourself – no matter what shape or size you are. It will get easier, and by learning to love yourself, and speaking out, you may inspire someone else lacking is body confidence to do the same!

What message would you give to your younger self?

You need to be around people who are going to uplift you and support you in words and actions.

Embrace those imperfections – there is only one you. Love the imperfection that makes you different.

It’s ok to be different to other people and it’s ok to accept who you are.

You’ve got to be true to yourself, love yourself, enjoy the skin you are in, love the skin you are in, and appreciate every single part of your body and just love life.

Where to go for more support

There’s lots more advice and guidance on the Bitesize Support pages. Have a look at our mental health collection to get started.

You could also explore the advice on Young Minds, ChildLine and The Mix.

Jesy Nelson: Learning to love myself
How to recognise and own your successes