Beauty Treatment: I Feel Pretty?

Hate the way you look? Changing your face or body doesn't usually fix the problem—but changing your mind can. Cognitive behavioral therapy, an effective treatment for eating disorders, takes time, practice, and professional guidance, but we all can learn CBT strategies to feel better about our looks. Here are three simple exercises to get you started. —Lauren F. Friedman

  1. Define your own criteria for what's attractive.

    Make a list of the three things you like most about yourself. How many are about your appearance? Likely nil. Personality is at the core of our self-esteem, not physical features. "The culture tends to say that you are how you look," says Vivian Diller, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in New York and a former model. But we can learn to measure worth according to our own standards instead.

  2. Separate beauty from perfection.

    We tend to equate beauty with a particular set of physical features. Fall short in one department and your whole self-image can be deflated. Instead, choose one or two things that you like about your looks. "Train your eye to focus on those," says Diller, "rather than dismissing them and focusing on the parts that don't fit into some perfect picture."

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  • Feel good about the image you project.

    You should never be reduced to just your looks, but putting your best face forward—and telling yourself that you look good—can provide a psychological boost. "Wear something sexy to bed instead of your old pajamas," says Diller, "and then tell me how you feel."
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