We all may want to have a confident self image, but it’s easier said than done. Truth is, a lot of people find things that they dislike about themselves—or even hate. But you’re not alone in this internal struggle for self acceptance, as there are tons of songs about hating your body made by artists that have battled internally with the same self-esteem issues.
Hopefully, you’ll find a few songs on this list that you can truly identify with, and maybe even change your own perspective when it comes to your body image.
Unpretty by TLC
Have you ever been riding on a high of your own self-love, just for someone to try and drag you down by pointing out your physical “flaws”?
Well, in the song “Unpretty,” TLC shows us that in addition to a toxic relationship having the potential to make us hate ourselves, it can also cause us to feel insecure about our bodies. No matter what the singers do to please their romantic partners in their lives, nothing seems to work to make them feel loved by these men. From wigs to makeup, to expensive accessories, they’re constantly told they don’t look attractive enough.
Never insecure until I met you, now I’m being stupid.
I used to be so cute to me, just a little bit skinny.
Why do I look to all these things, to keep you happy?
Maybe get rid of you and then I’ll get back to me.
The constant superficial criticism takes a toll on the singers, as they look to the past to remember a time in their lives when they were told they were beautiful by loved ones (and felt much better about their own self-image).
The ladies of TLC sing of blaming themselves so much, until they eventually realized it wasn’t them who was causing all of these negative thoughts in their minds—it was the people they were closet to.
My Mother & I by Lucy Dacus
Lucy Dacus uses her personal life experiences to teach the world about how insecurities can penetrate one’s psyche so deeply that it negatively impacts generations.
“My mother hates her body; we share the same outlines. She swears that she loves mine. I blur at the edges; I’m all soft shapes and lines, shapeshifting all the time.”
With eloquent wisdom, Dacus parallels the dislike of her soft features with the dissociation she felt growing up as she watched her mother loathe her own body. Lucy couldn’t bring herself to believe that she was beautiful because her mother, whom she genetically favored, didn’t think she herself was attractive.
No matter how gorgeous her mother told Dacus she was, her mother didn’t realize how empty her words sounded.
What is most beautiful about this song is that Dacus realizes that acknowledging her mother’s body image hang-ups sets her free from her own. It also has the ability to severely limit, or hopefully outright eliminate, future generations insecurity and anxiety when it comes to body image.
With one final deep sigh, Lucy respectfully releases the past by saying: “All she has given, all I have taken; all is forgiven, all is forsaken.”
Real Men by Mitsiki
Mitsiki provides a unique perspective on the unhealthy societal roles that plague everyone with unrealistic gender roles. She highlights that women have endured the societal expectations for men, who then project onto women all of the ridiculous attributes that men believe they are supposed to have. What many men don’t realize is that they too are suffering from the same expectations that are impossible to uphold.
“Real men keep cool in the face of a fire; go down with the ship. And real men don’t eat ‘cause they’re above that, **** it. Oh, I’m gonna be a real man…. All I wanna do is get naked in front of you, so you can look me up and down and give me your love for being so good.”
“Real Men” is so profound to me because I spent my childhood as a tomboy and devout “daddy’s girl.” I desperately tried to please both of my parents by being the manliest, ladylike human on Earth.
I didn’t eat much, and would do lots of strength-building exercises to carry heavy things. I’d wear perfume and uncomfortable corsets, and even refuse to show any emotions, as it’s frowned upon for men to cry and women to get angry.
Eventually, I realized these behaviors were taking a toll on me, and I denounced gender roles altogether. I just wanted to be me, and dance in the grey area between what society perceives to be masculine and feminine.
Jealousy Jealousy by Olivia Rodrigo
In the age of the internet, so many of us have driven ourselves mad comparing ourselves to the filtered lives of people on social media. Relying so heavily on our use of technology, it almost feels inevitable that you’ll one day become deeply jealous of another person’s life.
Olivia Rodrigo sums it up perfectly in her very first verse, when she says she’s ready to chuck her phone across the room.
“Com-comparison is killing me slowly; I think I think too much ‘bout kids who don’t know me.”
Her cries ring out for all of us as we try to play a losing game online with social media influencers. We don’t even know these people, yet we try to hold ourselves to their standards, which results in forgetting who we were in the first place.
If you can, spend some time away from your phone, or just delete social media apps altogether. Better said than done, huh? No worries, I’m not gonna do it either.
That Other Girl by Sevdaliza
So many of us fall prey to the one-size-fits-none beauty standards that befall us in our everyday lives. We try to overcompensate by trying to embody every characteristic we think we’re meant to have for everyone but ourselves.
Borne from what Sevdaliza says are her “perceptions and experiences,” she takes us to her world of plastic and metal, bending our preconceptions of her using modern-day body-altering technology.
“He never knew my form or shape; heart couldn’t melt me, water couldn’t bathe me.”
In “That Other Girl,” Sevdaliza takes dissociative pride in her ability to change herself into any manifestation of herself she so desires. However, despite her talent, it’s very clear in the hollowness of the musical sound, and the coolness in her voice that she has become her own prisoner, doomed to be forever searching for her true self in a cold and artificial maze of her own creation.
Self Hate by Mayten
When I feel particularly bad about myself, I usually float around in a void of my own mind. The feeling of being submerged in murky depths can seem comforting at first, but if I’m not careful, I usually drown in my own self-hatred. Mayten vividly illustrates this feeling through their dark, trap-style track.
As if the gentle whispers resemble keepers who carry lost souls to Oblivion, they offer a soothing melody for our gloomy thoughts of self hate to simmer. Though the lyrics are somewhat hard to decipher, there is one repeating lyric I interpret as,
“Let me in….”
I interpret this lyric to have two meanings. Either the phrase acts as a subconscious encouragement to let the innate love we have for ourselves penetrate the darkness in which we have encapsulated ourselves. Or the voice acts as an ominous desire to let our self-hatred consume us whole.
Dancing On My Own by Calum Scott
Sometimes self-hatred can be perpetuated by society. In Calum Scotts cover of artist’s, Robyn, “Dancing On My Own” Scott mourns the fact that his ex who he’s still in love with is not interested in him. He’s a black rose on the wall, watching him kiss a woman, wishing it was him in the man’s embrace instead.
“I’m in the corner watching you kiss her, oh. And I’m giving it my all, but I’m not the guy you’re taking home. Ooh, and I keep dancing on my own.”
Though this seems to be a simple tale of heartbreak on the surface, I believe there’s a deeper meaning hidden within. Scott covered this song in 2015, a time when same-sex marriage was still a hot topic in the USA. For many Americans, this British singer’s heartfelt words resonated with them because they too felt a love in their hearts for someone that society would deem as shameful for loving.
“There’s a big black sky over my town.”
In a world where same-sex love is still taboo in many instances, it’s difficult to not blame oneself for not adhering to the societal expectations of heterosexual love; it’s especially gut-wrenching when the one you love chooses someone else over you, in an effort to be accepted by society.
I’m Not Enough and I’m Sorry by Teqkoi (feat. Sn⌀w)
No one deserves to feel self-hatred, but sometimes unhealthy people make us feel that way. Teqkoi and Sn⌀w sing about the inner turmoil one feels in a toxic relationship. Their lover is verbally abusive, and says awful things about the singer that he in turn internalizes as a core part of his being.
“I’m done feeling worthless, imperfect, you hit me where it hurts.”
Though he knows that he’s being abused, he still blames himself for his lover’s rage. In a fawning manner, he cries,
“I’m not enough and I’m sorry; I really love you, and I’m sorry. I struggle at showing, and I’m sorry; you pretend to smile, and I’m sorry.”
I don’t believe the singer is struggling to show his love at all; he’s just confused because his efforts have been met with nothing but abuse to the point that he’s uncertain about how to show his love, for fear of being punished.
This song is wake-up call for many of us, as it asks us to take a look at our self-depreciating thoughts and ask if the thoughts come from us, or if they’re awful things others have said about us.
I F*** Everything Up by Mom
In the midst of a mental breakdown, Mom struggles to sing some of the most relatable lyrics of the decade. Every now and then, we throw ourselves a pity party to celebrate our shortcomings, and Mom adds to this party by creating catchy music to go along with the sad-day cake.
“My whole body feels like a clenched fist. La-la-lalala-lala.”
Mom perfectly describes the tension we feel when we’re so stressed out from trying to be the best at everything, yet failing at most. She’s aware that she tries too hard to be loved by everyone and being the center of attention, while being self-destructive at the same time.
She sets herself up for failure, yet refuses to hold herself accountable for her actions. In my opinion, she’s being too hard on herself. As a former people-pleaser, I always judged myself to harshly for my failures and thought I was quite the self-centered narcissist, when in reality I was just needed a hug. I’d give her a hug today if I could.
I Scared All My Friends Away by beard
This upbeat track tells a story of someone who is desperate to keep his friends in his life. beard doesn’t outline the qualities in himself that scared his friends away, or go into detail about why he dislikes himself. He only says that he tried to explain himself, but didn’t get through to his friends. It’s debatable as to whether he did anything wrong, as his only focus is being loved.
“I’ll try my best to be who you want me to be. Just please don’t leave me, my friend,” He pleads, “I’ll change my ways as long as you’ll take me back.”
I felt a particular kind of heartbreak when I first listened to this song. I have been in a few friend groups where I was alienated for being myself; I thought something was wrong with me and did everything I could to change who I was in order to fit in.
It never worked and I felt severely dissociated from my true self for a long time afterwards. It seems as though beard may be a pleasant person, and the people he wishes to associate with simply aren’t for him; though moving on is easier said than done if all he wants is to be loved.
Dear God, I Hate Myself by Xiu Xiu
Xiu Xiu captures how mental illness can have a huge impact on one’s perception of themselves and the world around them. This song is relatable for me because so many lines reflect ways I have behaved in the past when I was feeling the worst about myself.
For instance, singer, Jamie Stewart, says that he will treat his pet cat better than the person in his life; there were times I would only feel worthy enough to treat my cat better than others. I hated myself for it, but didn’t know how to change.
“Flip off the mirror as protest; who the F-word are you you you? And I will never be happy; and I will never feel normal. Dear God, I hate myself.”
It is clear Stewart is struggling with his self-perception so much that he can’t bear to see his true self in the mirror, and resorts to attacking his reflection instead. He’s stuck on the limiting belief that he will never get better, and chooses to live a life of despair.
PrettyGirlz by WILLOW
WILLOW breaks modern-day stigmas with the release of “PrettyGirlz” that discusses how trends favor curvy women with curly hair who always smile with full lips and seem perfect. Around the same time when this song was released, WILLOW spoke on the Red Table Talk of her feelings about her self-image.
“Sometimes you do look at that Instagram photo and you’re like ‘d**m’ she got such a beautiful body’ then you think to yourself ‘what if I had that body?’”
Despite revealing her insecurities, she confidently describes the traits she finds attractive in women that surpass the physical and superficial attributes we as a society were taught to idolize.
“I want a girl who’s got a light hat makes me squint when I look in her eyes. And she doesn’t give a f*** when emotions run amuck, she’s alright, she’s alright. Want a girl who knows herself like her favorite book right on the shelf.”
With gentle and loving fanfare, WILLOW highlights to us that there is so much beauty in a person that is outside of their looks; anyone can change their hair or their body, but for many of us, we admire the charm and artistry in one’s soul.
Mirror by Little Dragon
At first glance, you’d think Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon is speaking angrily to a friend who is causing her distress. You may think that her friend must have enacted an awful amount of betrayal to make Nagano so upset, or perhaps even that Nagano is being too harsh with the way she is blaming her friend for all of her emotions.
However, upon closer inspection, you realize she’s been speaking to herself this entire time. She’s angry and simultaneously afraid of herself, wondering how she could have forgotten to smile, moreover, forgotten about her playful, childlike self that used to fill her with life.
Her heart is broken, and she vows to find some sort of clarity in her life to fix what she thinks is broken within herself. But she doesn’t realize that she is perpetuating this fragmented version of herself that has left her as mere shards of herself on the floor. In a final, self-destructive manner, she snarls,
“You’re gonna make me put my fist through this mirror.
I’m so sick and tired of lookin’ in this mirror.”
Trying to Be Nice by fanclubwallet
When I was in grade school, my soft spoken and polite nature made everyone believe that I was a genuinely nice person. I’m not saying that I was unkind, but this outward preconception of me was very damaging to my mental health.
Since I was so nice, people expected me to not have opinions, preferences, or healthy defense mechanisms. This made me feel like an alien, which is exactly what you’ll see if you look this song up on the internet: A girl, appearing to be exhausted, is leaning against a house, holding an alien mask.
The singer sings of hating themselves a little more whenever they try to be nice, but in reality, they simply don’t want to do the things others want them to do. And if people perceive them to be unkind, so be it. Our lives aren’t meant to be lived dictated by others, so let’s all set aside our alien masks and just enjoy our lives.
“I’m not trying to be nice, ‘Cause when I am I hate the sound of my own voice. I don’t think we should hangout; I think I hate myself a little more than you right now”
The singer, Hannah Judge, says she wrote this song during moments in time she felt unsure about herself, so she dedicated this song to feelings of self-doubt. Her sentiment really resonates with me, especially now that I know some of her lyrics were written while she was in the middle of moving back to her hometown.
Those of us who had less than glamorous childhoods with problematic family dynamics understand how damaging it can be to be placed in the boxes your family put you in before you grew into yourself. Let this song be an ode to stay true, no matter what others think of you.
Your Beauty Standards Can… by awfultune
I love a good psychedelic 70s-style electronica song that gives one big fat middle finger to society’s expectations. With confidence and sarcasm, awfultune bursts through the gates, self-loving water guns a’blazing with the realest lyrics I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear.
“Mutilate your natural state, so you get asked out on a date…Dieting to lose some weight; Instagram your pretty face.”
Each line is a beautiful poem mocking how social media promotes self-hatred to sell products; they encourage us to not “break the bank” to showcase an inauthentic version of ourselves, and just do what we want.
“Let the women do what they do; we don’t live to please you.”
awfultune asks us to inquire within ourselves about who the heck we’re doing all of this for: our parents, our peers, that random guy we saw at the ice cream shop? Who cares?! We’re all beautiful and worthy of living life as we see fit.
“And in time you will see you’re anything but ugly; life’s worth more than physical beauty, you don’t owe anyone anything. You don’t have to look pretty!”
Well, that was a wild journey, wasn’t it? With these songs about hating your body, we laughed, we cried, we probably screamed, and we still came out better than we were before. Having feelings that are devoid of self love is far from abnormal, and know that many others have dealt with self-hatred.
But hopefully, when you’re feeling down or lacking a little bit of confidence, you can throw on one of these aforementioned songs about body image in an effort to gain a little boost of self-esteem.
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This article was written by Randa.