The low self-esteem day happens to everyone. As women, we tend to be incredibly critical of ourselves, and even the slightest thing—an off hair day, a pair of too-snug jeans, an errant zit—can plunge our self-confidence into the abyss, seemingly never to be seen again.
We’re willing to wager than even women like Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne—who seem beyond perfect to the rest of us mere mortals—have days when they’re not feeling so hot and they’re all, “Ew” at themselves in the mirror. And it’s okay to feel that way occasionally, but what’s not okay is wallowing and letting those negative feelings steal precious time away from your day. That said, we’ve come up with 10 easy ways to boost your self-esteem on days when you’re feeling down on yourself.
1. Remember: Nothing is permanent.
This can be one of the most effective tools against poor body image and low self-esteem, at least in our experience. If, on a particular day, you happen to feel too fat or too flat, or you’re bloated, or your hair is wonky—just remind yourself: this, too, shall pass. Nothing is permanent, especially not those few extra pounds of water weight or that humid-day hair frizz you woke up with. The point is: there’s no reason to get upset over that image in the mirror, because it’s constantly in flux.
2. Accept that you’re not perfect, which is a good thing.
Plain and simple. The good news? Perfection is kind of boring. It’s been said that Cindy Crawford was rejected time and time again from modeling because of her mole (an oddity when she first started out), and famous women like Jewel and Lauren Hutton have flat-out refused to get their crooked or gapped teeth fixed. Imperfections make people (and that means you!) interesting.
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3. Understand that nobody else is perfect, either!
Here’s some more good news about imperfections: Everyone has ’em. This can be one of the hardest facts to accept, because the mass media is constantly bombarding us with photoshopped, air-brushed, retouched images of women looking perfect. But in reality, they’re not. Just like you, they have bad hair days and get zits on their face; basically, they look normal without a team or hair and makeup professionals constantly on-call to fluff them and dress them up. Remember when Jennifer Lawrence admitted to never being able to look as perfect as she does in Dior ads without Photoshop? Don’t forget that.
4. Realize that your body belongs to you, not the other way around.
Not to get all new age-y on you, but “you” inhabit and own your body, not the other way around. You live inside your body and control what goes into it, how you view it, how you adorn it, and generally everything about it. So try to remember that when you’re feeling not-so-great about yourself; your body does not define who you are, but rather is only one part of what makes you you.
5. Accept the truth: what matters isn’t really how you look, but how you carry yourself. You’ve heard it time and time again, but it’s an age-old saying for a reason: confidence will take you a long way. As we saw when we examined how you can banish the muffin top from your life, it’s not about changing your body at all, but rather changing how you dress it and how you carry your clothes. This is true in general; if you carry yourself in a confident, happy way no matter how you think you look that day, no one else is going to notice your so-called shortcomings. They’ll only see a self-possessed person who seems content in her own skin!
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6. Repeat after us: “I have a right to take up space.”
One of the most annoying things about being a woman is that we tend to believe we have to be as tiny as possible to be validated. Whether that means literally small (“I just have to lose that extra five pounds!”) or metaphorically small (“I simply can’t be as assertive as I’d like at work.”) Next time you’re out somewhere, try this experiment: Take a mental note of how many times you hear a woman say “I’m sorry” for absolutely no reason. Women have a habit of apologizing for doing things that they have every right to do; i.e., entering a room with clicking heels, or gently brushing past someone on a crowded subway. So the next time you feel a bit less confident than you’d prefer, just look at yourself in the mirror and repeat after us: “I have a right to take up space.”
7. Wear one thing that makes you absurdly happy.
Whether it’s a pair of crazy-high shoes, a turban, a necklace, your grandmother’s handbag, a vintage brooch, or any kind of fun accessory or article of clothing, if you have a piece that makes you absurdly excited, a low self-esteem day is a perfect opportunity to pull it out of the closet. It might sound shallow, but it’s a really effective, fast pick-me-up.
8. Put on lipstick.
It’s a piece of advice your mom probably gave you that her mom probably gave her—for a reason. If you’re feeling down, slap on your favorite shade of notice-me lipstick, blot, and stand up straight. Your mind will swiftly start to mimic your new-found colorfulness.
9. Fix your hair.
This might seem like a “duh” piece of advice, but if you’re at all like us, sometimes you get into a hair rut where you either aren’t taking much time to fix your ‘do, or you’re doing the same thing with your coif each day. Either way, even the slightest change can make you look at yourself differently and help you perk up in general. Buy a new product, try a new shampoo, get a new cut, or simply style it differently—the results can be monumentally exciting.
10. Lighten up.
Last but certainly not least, try not to take yourself so seriously. The women with the most effortless style are those who have a sense of humor about themselves; can you imagine an icon like Marilyn Monroe ever beating herself up too hard over how she looks? If you’re having a fat day, okay, you’re having a fat day; make a joke about it and let it go. If your hair is doing something crazy, okay, your hair is doing something crazy; laugh it off. The power of comedy to combat any number of hardships is immeasurable.