I Hate My Body: What to Do and How to Improve Your Body Image

A girl looking in the mirror thinking i hate my body.

I Hate My Body

We all think negatively about our bodies sometimes. Whether it’s recent weight gain or an imperfect complexion, so many of us dislike something about our physical appearance that we might like to change, given the chance. 


What matters is how these thoughts and feelings impact our body image.


Body image is tied to our self-perception. Someone with a negative body image may believe they are unattractive or undesirable, resulting in low self-esteem and internalized body shame.


Meanwhile, someone with a positive body image may accept their appearance, loving and enjoying their body for what it is.


Much in the way our bodies change and grow, so does our body image. You may feel more negatively or positively about your appearance on some days than on others. 


However, if you obsessively fixate and have constant negative thoughts about your body—to the point that it affects your mental health and everyday life—then you may have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).


Body dysmorphic disorder is the obsessive idea that your body, or parts of your body, is severely flawed and must be “fixed.” According to the International OCD Foundation, about 5 to 10 million Americans are affected by BDD


Common signs of body dysmorphic disorder include: 

  • Only seeing the “flaws” in your body
  • Frequently checking your body in mirrors and becoming upset
  • Touching the parts of your body you dislike
  • Trying to hide or disguise parts of yourself
  • Trying to “fix” the body part through unhealthy methods

To help you better understand body image, we’ll be going over a few reasons why you may hate your body, steps you can take to nurture body acceptance, and how online therapy can help you tackle your inner critic.



Why Do I Hate My Body?

According to Ipsos, 74 and 83 percent of American men and women, respectively, are in some way dissatisfied with their bodies.


Just as all bodies are unique, the causes and emotions behind poor body image are different for everyone. However, there are some commonalities.  


Below, we’ve listed a few possible reasons why you may hate your body:


Body dysmorphia

Body dysmorphia lies on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum. It shares symptoms with but is not the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).


As with OCD, people with body dysmorphic disorder struggle with uncomfortable, compulsive thought patterns. These thoughts may lead to compulsive actions, such as sucking in your stomach, picking at your skin, or in the case of an eating disorder, over-exercising, binge eating, and purging. 


BDD is linked to other mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and may also affect your physical health.


Societal pressure 

Society has influenced beauty standards for centuries. However, in the age of Instagram, detox teas, and fad diets, we’re more accustomed to judging and making inappropriate comments about other people’s bodies than ever before. 


These comments can be especially damaging if they come from loved ones or a spouse. Though they may mean well, undesired comments can heighten body insecurity and warp self-perception.


Your body is injured or prone to injury

One of the most difficult things about being human is that your body is fallible. 


As we age, we recover more slowly from illnesses and injuries. For those with disabilities, it may be hard to sit, walk, or stand, limiting your range of motion and/or making you prone to injury. 


Regardless of the circumstances, pain can leave you frustrated, leading to negative thoughts about your body.


A body part doesn’t function as it used to

No one likes losing control. Whether it’s due to age, injury, or a disability, when a body part no longer functions the way it used to, intense negative emotions can fester. For some, these emotions can manifest as self-hatred and body shame.


Constantly changing beauty standards

Self-acceptance can feel like a moot point when we’re pushed to worship and pursue a certain kind of body type.


However, as beauty standards evolve and the goal post keeps moving, it’s hard to feel like who we are is good enough. The idea of the “perfect body” is ultimately unattainable, encouraging only self-loathing and impossible standards of beauty for many.



How to Improve Your Body Image

As with any form of recovery, it takes time and possibly professional help to dismantle body negativity and reimagine one’s self-image.


Fortunately, you can lay the groundwork today for a healthier, happier body with a few simple tips. Here’s how: 


Make a list of all the things your body can do

When we get caught up in what we don’t like about our bodies, we often forget about all the really amazing things our bodies do for us. 


When you’re bogged down by negative thoughts, take a moment to write down all the things your body can do. From keeping you healthy to taking you from place to place, acknowledging your body’s capabilities can help cultivate a newfound pride and admiration.


Pamper your body

Your body is the only “person” who supports and cares for you unconditionally, so it’s important to thank it every now and then. You can do this by taking a hot bubble bath, getting a massage, or simply resting for the day and having a nice, home-cooked meal. 


Whatever you do, the most important thing is that you’re giving your body the care and attention it deserves.


Avoid triggers like social media and weight scales

If you’re triggered by social media, listen to your needs and click that unfollow button. Feel free to block any content from your feed that makes you feel insecure or worthless.


Likewise, step away from anything you might obsess over, such as the weight scale. The sum of your parts doesn’t come down to a number. Furthermore, you don’t have to hit a certain weight or start a new diet to enjoy life; you deserve to be happy, regardless of your appearance. 


Surround yourself with body-positive friends and family

How we see ourselves is often very different from how others see us.


Practice self-care by building boundaries with people who make you feel ashamed or insecure, and instead, start surrounding yourself with loved ones who inspire self-confidence.


By being around body-positive people, you can catch negative thought patterns and learn how to view yourself in a kinder light.


Practice self-love and compassion

Self-love doesn’t have to be loud or revolutionary. It can be as simple as daily affirmations and wearing the clothes you like (not just the ones you believe you should fit into). Do what makes you feel good, safe, and comfortable.


Body neutrality can also be beneficial. If self-love isn’t within your grasp right now, self-acceptance through body neutrality can help you overcome negative thoughts and teach you the value of your body without loving or hating it.


Love Your Body with the Help of Emote’s Online Therapy

While it’s normal to feel self-conscious from time to time, hating your appearance can deeply impact your mental and physical well-being.


Thankfully, with a little time, patience, and the right kind of help, you can learn how to dismantle and overcome body negativity. 


With Emote, a licensed therapist is ready and able to help you confront your inner critic


Thanks to our remote services, you don’t have to worry about the potential discomfort and anxiety that comes with traditional therapy sessions. You can schedule virtual appointments over video chat or text your therapist throughout your day—your comfort is yours to control. 


With Emote Online Therapy, you’re free to explore solutions, develop treatment plans, and discuss other issues related to body insecurity, such as intimacy and relationship troubles.


Learn how to love your body and sign up today for only $35 during your first week. Visit our FAQ or contact us to learn more about your future Emote experience.