By Beverley Tetteh, 18, Hackney Young Speaker.

A good friend of mine recently gave a presentation at her school, on body image and body positivity. Not only did it move me – but it made me realise how universal negativity and self-hate can be.

As it’s Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May), i just wanted to highlight some of the challenges we face as young people, how to battle them and embracing ourselves for who we are.

People have always thought I was a confident, smiley person, but I’ve always had a constant battle with my looks and hid under a mask.

My insecurities were so broad that the list seemed to get larger as i grew up. I didn’t like my chubbiness, my hips, dips, lopsided face, or my small lips. I didn’t like my small eyes, my eyebrows and my broad shoulders or the keratosis pilaris on my arms and legs.

For a while i became very dependent on others making me feel good – craving compliments and acceptance from others – which is super unhealthy and only gives you a short moment of happiness.

I used to pick out every flaw in myself every morning before school, and not even consider the positives.

Only recently, i realised that i cannot expect anyone else to love me if i cannot even love myself. No one will love you more than yourself. 

After a lot of breakdowns, talking about it more and self motivation to try new things, i manged to finally get into a position where i am happy with the way my face and body looks.

I no longer compare myself to unrealistic Instagram models. I no longer find exercise a chore. I no longer overeat my problems away. I no longer surround myself with people who make me feel bad about myself. I no longer seek for the acceptance of people around me.

I now find myself to be a beautiful human inside and out. 

It’s okay and completely normal to feel low about the way you look sometimes. It’s okay not to have an ultra slim waist, acne-free skin, big muscles or a six pack. But it is really important you remember that these things do not define you or change you as a person, so don’t let them.

Accepting yourself takes time, don’t rush it. 


If you’re struggling with confidence or negative thoughts about your body or how you look, and would like some support please contact us on: 020 8356 1343 or email david.wright@hackney.gov.uk

Alternatively these websites also offer support:

Young Minds

Youth Beyond Blue 

The Mix

All of this support is completely confidential.