I Don't Feel Attractive: What Can I Do?

If you often tell yourself that you don't feel attractive, and that perception causes you discomfort, there are ways to overcome it.
I Don't Feel Attractive: What Can I Do?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 29 August, 2023

“What can I do if I don’t feel attractive?” This negative view of yourself responds to a fairly widespread phenomenon. Biased self-perception is now common among men and women, regardless of age or social status. In these cases, it’s best to reformulate many of your beliefs.

Likewise, we live in a society dominated by the tyranny of one’s image and what we’re supposed to look like. Feeling that you don’t fit in is understandable, given the artificial canons of beauty that are imposed on us from various sources. Accepting yourself and connecting with your image to appreciate it requires a deep emotional, cognitive, and attitudinal work that we’ll detail below.

“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try to approve yourself and see what happens.”

-Louis Hay (You Can Heal Your Life, 1984)-

What can I do if I don’t feel attractive?

The perception you have of your appearance conditions many areas of your life, especially interpersonal relationships. Research published in Biological Sciences highlights that certain more graceful facial features are often accompanied by greater social success. We all know this to be true. However, you should also keep one detail in mind.

Beauty is a cultural, educational, and personal construction that you develop in relation to everything around you. Factors such as comparison or even the messages you receive from your environment condition the way you see yourself. The good news is that you can change that approach to make it healthier and more loving. It’s possible to like yourself more, and we’ll explain how to do it.

Turn off your negative attentional bias

Where do you look when you look in the mirror? What do you think while you look at yourself? One of the reasons you don’t feel attractive has to do with your self-referential processing and attentional bias. In fact, the journal Neuroscience Research points out how these factors mediate the construction of your own self-esteem.

Now, what do these concepts mean and how should you work on them to feel better? We’ll explain it below:

  • Don’t focus on your supposed flaws. The negative attention bias causes you to focus over and over again on those aspects of your face or body that you like the least. To avoid this, look away from those points and accept them as they are.
  • Value those attractive parts of yourself. Keep in mind: All of us have areas that are imperfect and others that are more beautiful. Even if your ears stick out a bit, your eyes and lips may be your strong point. Value those parts and direct your attention to those areas of your body and face that you do like.
  • Compassionate self-referential processing. If you look at yourself every day and only think about how unattractive you are and keep telling yourself, “I don’t feel attractive”, you’ll reinforce your negative attentional bias. To reformulate it, try to look at yourself with compassion and respect. You deserve to treat yourself well and appreciate yourself with integrity and empathy.

Practice neutrality with your appearance

Surely, phrases like “love your body”, which our society repeats so much, are something you have a hard time complying with. You’re not the only one, which is why another perspective emerged years ago.

Practicing neutrality regarding your appearance means no longer valuing yourself based on what you’re like and appreciating everything you can do. This is a new approach that’s much more enriching. To achieve this purpose, keep in mind the following dimensions:

  • Appreciate the here and now without leaving room for self-criticism.
  • There’s no need for you to adore your face and body, you just need to accept them without judging them.
  • Start new activities that make you feel good and allow you to enjoy yourself.
  • Enjoy every activity that your body allows you to do (working, dancing, hugging, walking, etc.).

The importance of self-care

The fact that you say to yourself that you don’t feel attractive from time to time is normal. After all, it’s hard to like yourself every day. The key is that this negative self-perception isn’t a constant every time you look in the mirror. It must be controlled and regulated to safeguard your psychological well-being.

As you well know, body dissatisfaction has a huge impact on our youth. Not liking yourself, as pointed out in a study published by the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, is correlated with anxiety problems. Therefore, to prevent and address the negative judgment toward your own image, it’s best to practice good self-care.

Validating your emotional needs, surrounding yourself with people who appreciate you, being kind to yourself, and practicing healthy habits will go a long way.

Boost your self-esteem and self-confidence

To be attractive, you don’t have to have a perfect body and face. Your personality and confidence go a long way in making you more attractive to others and, above all, to yourself. In fact, the more you value yourself and appreciate your skills, the more the perception you have of your image will improve.

The Encyclopedia of Body Image and Human Appearance highlights how this same link between body image and self-esteem can condition the entire life cycle of people, and not just young people. Therefore, in order to improve these spheres of your well-being, it’s useful to put the following into practice:

  • Trust your skills.
  • Learn new skills.
  • Ask your family and friends what’s best about you.
  • Be proud of your achievements, whether they’re big or small.
  • Recognize your worth, talent, and what makes you unique.
  • Keep in mind all those who appreciate you just the way you are.
  • Look for that style of dress and haircut that makes you feel good and empowered.
  • Set new challenges for yourself. You’ll see how your self-confidence improves when you conquer them.

Physical attractiveness almost always responds to a subjective perception conditioned by your social and cultural environment. Working on your self-confidence, self-esteem, and attitude will allow you to see yourself better and feel more secure in your interpersonal relationships.

Avoid comparing yourself to others

If you’ve been telling yourself for a long time that you don’t feel attractive, there’s another variable that you must tend to. It’s time to stop comparing yourself to others, be it with those around you or figures on Instagram or TikTok. In this regard, the journal Frontiers in Psychology published a study that points out how social networks can affect your subjective well-being by facilitating this comparative mechanism.

Starting today, train your mind to focus attention on yourself in a healthy way and not so much on others. You’re unique, with your particularities, your beauties, and defects, just like everyone else. Beauty is in diversity and not in homogeneity. Avoid wanting to meet an ideal of attractiveness that’s as impossible as it is unhealthy.

Filter the messages that come to you and keep the positive ones

“You’d be more attractive if you lost weight.” “You’d look a lot better if you got some cosmetic touch-ups.” In your environment, you may receive comments that invalidate your self-image. It’s not only social networks that send you biased messages about the ideals of beauty. Your friends and even your family can offer you inaccurate and even harmful judgments.

Put up filters and protection mechanisms against those words from others that weaken your self-esteem. Keep only those words and comments that build you up.

Pay attention to your internal dialogue

The way you talk to yourself affects how you look. Culture and society can convince you that you don’t fit the distorted canon of what’s considered to be beautiful and attractive. However, your negative internal dialogue is what boycotts you the most when it comes to having a healthy self-image.

Try to reformulate it, change your conversational dynamics, and make it more respectful and healthy. Fire your internal judge so that it can’t devalue and criticize you again.

Being attractive is an attitude

If you feel good on the inside, you’ll feel better on the outside. So, when you tell yourself that you don’t feel attractive, it’s important to know that this perception is often highly subjective. Remember that there are plenty of people with unique physical characteristics whose attitudes make them attractive.

This is a dimension that you can train and improve. Work on your emotions, find that point of well-being and inner calm to then boost your charisma, charm, and social skills. Your self-image will improve.

Surviving a world dominated by the tyranny of beauty

You’ll agree that we live in a world where the physical image has great power. However, the beauty that’s sold to us isn’t always what’s real or healthy. Try, therefore, to be critical of the types of ideas that can come to you from almost any field, including people you have close.

Lastly and most importantly, don’t hesitate to consult a specialized professional if this negative perception towards you persists over time. Sometimes, behind these attributions and emotional discomfort, a clinical condition may be hiding. Remember that there are effective therapies that will restore your self-confidence and the well-being that you need.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Little, A. C., Jones, B. C., & DeBruine, L. M. (2011). Facial attractiveness: evolutionary based research. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences366(1571), 1638–1659. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3130383/
  • O’Dea, J. A. (2012). Body Image and Self-Esteem. En T. F. Cash (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Body Image and Human Appearance, 1, 141–147. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-14627-021
  • Quittkat, H. L., Hartmann, A. S., Düsing, R., Buhlmann, U., & Vocks, S. (2019). Body dissatisfaction, importance of appearance, and body appreciation in men and women over the lifespan. Frontiers in Psychiatry10, 864. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00864/full
  • Salehinejad, M. A., Nejati, V., & Nitsche, M. A. (2020). Neurocognitive correlates of self-esteem: From self-related attentional bias to involvement of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Neuroscience Research161, 33–43. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31837992/
  • Vannucci, A., & Ohannessian, C. M. (2018). Body image dissatisfaction and anxiety trajectories during adolescence. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology47(5), 785–795. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6072626/
  • Wang, J.-L., Wang, H.-Z., Gaskin, J., & Hawk, S. (2017). The mediating roles of upward social comparison and self-esteem and the moderating role of social comparison orientation in the association between social networking site usage and subjective well-being. Frontiers in Psychology8, 771.  https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00771/full

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.