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I feel bad about my body and the way I look. What can I do?

An unhealthy body image, or feeling really bad about the way you look, can make it harder for you to form friendships and romantic relationships. You might get so focused on your looks that you lose interest in other things, like friends and school.

If you have an unhealthy body image, know that you’re not alone. Many people feel this way at different times in their lives, but there is no reason to live with these bad feelings. Talk to your parents or another trusted adult—a teacher, relative or clergy person, for example—about your feelings. They can help you locate a counselor or therapist, or maybe help you find a support group of other teens who feel the same way. There are resources available to help you.

The key is learning how to change your attitude about your body, not changing your body or looks. You may change one part of your body you are unhappy with, but it won’t help to solve the deeper issue. It is rewarding to instead accept your body and learn to love the way you look.

Body acceptance means being OK with who you are on the outside and inside. It means having a good life—feeling good, taking care of yourself—no matter what size, shape or color you are, instead of just focusing on changing your body.

Body acceptance is about saying no to warped and unrealistic images of beauty and celebrating the beauty of diverse body shapes, sizes and colors. It’s about loving your body and accepting yourself for who you are.

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