People who are insecure about their looks usually display these 8 behaviors (without realizing it)

Before diving into the research for this post, I anticipated high figures related to insecurities surrounding appearance. But actual statistics still managed to shock me. 

It’s staggering to realize just how common these insecurities are among people. According to a 2019 survey, over a third of adults felt down or low because of their body image. But here’s the most alarming fact: 13% experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings due to concerns about their body image. 

If these figures aren’t bleak enough, The Mental Health Foundation points out that “Higher body dissatisfaction is associated with a poorer quality of life, psychological distress, and the risk of unhealthy eating behaviors and eating disorders.” 

Knowing these facts, it should go without saying that if we want to support the people we care about, it’s essential to recognize the signs of such insecurity. 

Today, we dive into eight of them. 

Some surprised me and may surprise you, too. Not all are as obvious as you might think. 

Let’s get to it.

1) Comparing their appearance to others 

Does the person you have in mind constantly scroll through Instagram, eyeing models and influencers, perhaps wishing they looked more like them? 

Often, they may not even realize they’re doing it. 

This habit of comparing one’s appearance unfavorably to others, especially those in the media or within their peer groups, is far more common than many of us might think.

In 2019, more than one in five adults (21%) reported that images used in advertising had caused them to worry about their body image. 

As you might imagine, such comparisons can significantly impact one’s self-esteem and body image. 

Experts back this up, identifying such behavior as a sign of body dysmorphia – an obsessive focus on perceived flaws in one’s appearance, which can lead to severe emotional distress and difficulties in daily functioning.

People with this condition “might spend a lot of time thinking about others’ bodies and how they are better than yours,” Carla Korn, LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist, explained to Insider

So basically, this sort of comparison can be a slippery slope, leading to deeper insecurities and dissatisfaction with one’s own body. Watch out for it in those you care for. 

2) Often seeking reassurance about their looks 

“Do I look okay in this outfit? Does this color make me look washed out? Do you think I’ve gained weight?” 

Any of these sound familiar? 

We all harbor some level of uncertainty about our looks, but when someone is incessantly asking questions like these, it indicates a deeper struggle with self-image.

This behavior might seem blatantly obvious to an observer, yet for the person in question, it could be such an ingrained habit that they don’t even realize they’re doing it. 

They might routinely seek validation from friends, family, or partners, using it as a temporary balm to soothe their pervasive doubts about their attractiveness or worth based on their appearance.

This constant need for affirmation can become an emotional crutch, one that offers momentary relief but does little to address the root causes of their insecurities.

3) Social media overuse

“Social media has created a culture of insecurity and comparison.” – Cleveland Clinic.

It should come as no surprise to hear that using social media too much, especially on sites where people post lots of pictures, can really make us feel bad about how we look. 

This link between social media and body image concerns is supported by research. Just over one in five adults and a whopping 40% of teenagers have expressed that social media imagery has directly influenced their body image concerns. 

These facts highlight the profound effect that curated and often unrealistic portrayals of beauty on social media can have on individuals, exacerbating existing insecurities and potentially fostering new ones.

Anyone can fall victim to this, but it’s definitely one to watch closely for in teenagers. 

4) Excessive grooming habits

We all have our grooming quirks, but people grappling with insecurities about their looks often take these routines to an obsessive level. 

Often, the bathroom becomes a sanctuary where they attempt to perfect every aspect of their appearance, spending hours on end styling their hair, applying makeup, or engaging in various skincare routines. 

Excessive grooming like this is not just about wanting to look presentable; it’s a coping mechanism for deeper feelings of inadequacy. 

For those insecure about their appearance, these rituals can provide a temporary sense of control over how they are perceived by others. The time spent in front of the mirror isn’t just about vanity—it’s an attempt to armor themselves against perceived judgments and criticisms. 

However, this reliance often masks deeper issues of self-esteem and body image that need to be addressed for genuine healing and confidence to occur.

5) Spending a lot of money on their appearance

not as confident as they seem People who are insecure about their looks usually display these 8 behaviors (without realizing it)

How much would you say people spend on their appearance every year?

Well, one 2023 survey would suggest that Americans spend an average of almost 1,800 USD on beauty-related products and services. Younger generations tend to spend more. For millennials, for example, this figure was $2,760. 

Keep in mind these are just the averages. Some people spend much, much more. 

As noted by Psychology Today, overshopping or compulsive buying is often rooted in low self-esteem. For some, the act of purchasing new clothes, accessories, or beauty products provides a temporary boost in confidence. 

While indulging in retail therapy every now and then is perfectly normal, when spending on one’s appearance becomes a primary way to seek validation or to feel good about oneself, it may indicate deeper insecurities about how one looks. 

6) An obsession with mirrors or avoiding them entirely

Imagine not being able to walk past a mirror without stealing a glance, adjusting your hair, fixing your outfit, or scrutinizing your reflection for imperfections. Now, think about going out of your way to avoid mirrors, windows, or any reflective surface that confronts you with your own image. Ring a bell?

I hope not. 

As pointed out by Healthline, both obsessive checking and avoidance like this can indicate deep-seated insecurities about one’s appearance. 

While one person might seek reassurance in their reflection, hoping to find angles or views that satisfy their self-image, another might dodge this confrontation entirely, unwilling to face their perceived flaws.

They are coping mechanisms, a way to either micromanage one’s image or to disconnect from insecurities that seem too overwhelming to address. 

And unfortunately, some who display this behavior also do this next thing, which is something we all really need to look out for. 

7) Extreme dieting or exercise routines

When the pursuit of beauty standards translates into extreme dieting or excessive exercise, it’s a clear indication that insecurities about appearance have taken a more serious turn. 

Women might find themselves adopting rigorous and potentially harmful diets, aiming for rapid weight loss to align with societal ideals of slimness. 

On the flip side, men might develop an obsession with hitting the gym, pushing their bodies to the limit in the quest for a more muscular or ‘ideal’ physique.

These behaviors are not just about wanting to feel fit or healthy; they’re often about an overwhelming pressure to meet unrealistic standards of beauty, often at the cost of one’s health and well-being.

8) Withdrawal from social situations

It should come as no surprise that feeling bad about how we look can make us not want to hang out with people or join in on group stuff. 

It’s not just about being shy; it’s more about not wanting to join in because we’re scared of what people might think about our appearance. Health Direct says it straight: “Poor body image can make you pull back from fun things you like, such as sports and hanging out with friends.” 

People who are struggling with such insecurities might start saying no to invites or stop doing things they used to love, like playing sports or doing group hobbies. 

Watch out for this. This kind of behavior often makes them feel lonelier and more unsure of themselves

The bottom line 

There you have it, folks. 

Insecurities about appearance can manifest in myriad ways, subtly influencing behaviors and choices. 

Watch out for these in the people you love and care for; we can’t help if we don’t know. 

Until next time. 

Mal James

Mal James

Mal James Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business. As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys. In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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