7 Ways Physical Appearance Affects Self-Confidence

Our appearance and sense of self-confidence are inextricably linked. Sometimes we can improve our body image and self-confidence by making small cosmetic adjustments. For example, a common physical concern in men such as “man boobs”, may lead to major self-consciousness, but can be alleviated through targeted gynecomastia surgery. This can help to relieve psychological stress and boost confidence in the way you look.

In this article we’re going to have a look at seven ways your physical appearance can impact your self-confidence, and what repercussions that can have for your life if confidence issues are left unresolved.

1. Feeling like we stand out

One of the effects of feeling self-conscious about a physical difference is that it can make us feel separate from the people around us and unable to feel as if we “fit in”. Our judgments of our own body, or body image, can sometimes lead us to build an idea of ourselves as being someone different or unusual, which can then be made worse through the judgements or comments of other people about our appearance.

The sense that we are different and will be picked out for being different can have a host of negative consequences for our self-identity, and may interfere with our ability to socialize and feel the sense of belonging that can be vital to maintaining good mental health.

2. Less motivation

One way that our physical appearance can affect our self-esteem is by affecting our desire to complete tasks or motivate ourselves. This can be cyclical, in that we may feel like we have less worth if we achieve less with our days. Feeling unhappy with the way we look can sap our energy and motivation for doing all kinds of things that actually make us feel good, such as advancing in our workplace or going out to do exercise. The lack of physical activity brought on by low self-esteem can also lead to our appearance becoming worse as we lose muscle or gain weight.

3. Covering up your body

Self-consciousness is a common consequence of low levels of confidence in your appearance. On a practical level, this can make certain situations difficult, such as sunbathing, exercising, or any time you have to wear clothes that reveal more of your physique. Women who have recently given birth, for example, may feel self-conscious about changes to their physique, or men who have put on weight or begun to go bald, all may find themselves reaching for more conservative items of clothing to cover-up parts of their body.

4. Becoming less social

A hit to self-confidence can also have the effect of making you feel less sociable or less interested in having interactions with people in public. You may feel more comfortable seeing people in private, or only spending time with your closest friends who you feel will not judge your appearance in the same way.

It is well-known that physical beauty is linked with the way people interact with one another, and the way you are treated by others, so you may reach the conclusion that improving the way you look can make socializing easier. You may feel that your least favorite physical attributes are leading to unsuccessful interactions, thereby reinforcing your self-esteem issues.

5. Feeling you won’t be accepted

Having parts of your appearance that you don’t like can lead you to feel like an outsider, with a sense that there is nowhere for you to go where you will be accepted. These negative cycles of thoughts can put up barriers that prevent people from socialising with you, creating the idea that no one is able to accept you as a result of your appearance. 

In reality acceptance of differences in physical appearance is far greater than we imagine, but it can sometimes be hard to understand this, especially when self-esteem is at a low.

6. Comparing ourselves to others

Having little confidence in the way we look can result in us making constant comparisons to the people around us. We may feel like we don’t have value because of our unhappiness with their appearance, which makes us look at other people who we perceive as more “normal” than us with envy. This becomes a cycle that reinforces itself, as our self esteem drops even further as we compare ourselves to other people, but the more our self-esteem drops, the more likely we are to compare ourselves.

Social media can provide an unhealthy outlet for these instincts to compare ourselves to other people, and constant exposure to photographs of other people that have been carefully posed or filtered can make it more difficult to judge ourselves fairly and build our confidence back up.

7. Making the process of ageing more stressful

One of the unavoidable facts of life is that we all age. Ageing brings with it many different changes, from adolescence right up through old-age. Both sexes go through a variety of changes over their lifetimes, and as we move past middle age and our bodies begin to show the most outward signs of ageing, this can have a serious impact on the way we see ourselves and our self esteem. Liver spots, wrinkles, excess fat and sagging skin can make us feel less like the authentic version of ourselves, and can alter our body image significantly.

This can make us retreat from the world at just the moment we want to be enjoying the time we have left. Finding ways to build your self-esteem backup as you age is a great method for ensuring a fun, comfortable, and relaxed retirement.

Jennifer Bell is a mother of two, wellness coach, and writer for plastic surgery centers in the London area. She enjoys helping others find mental and physical wellness.