Bad body image day songs

Some days, I don’t feel that great about my body. Some days, I’ll wake up and look in the mirror as I get into the shower and wish my body were different. Some days are just bad body image days. Almost everyone has them, and the people who don’t are people whose resilience and realistic view of the world I hope to share one day.

One of the things I’ve learned over time, though, is that bad body image days don’t have to last all day long. There are things I can do to cheer myself up and shake myself back into reality – because, in reality, my body is fully functional and beautiful and can do the splits on both legs. And one of those things is listening to music. I’m one of those people whose moods are very easily influenced by music; a sad song can ruin my good mood, and an upbeat song can often pull me out of a funk.

Yesterday was a bad body image day, and since I had a lot of work to do and couldn’t afford to spend time thinking about my thighs, I decided I had better put together a playlist that would turn the day around. I dragged and dropped a few songs from my iTunes, and I solicited the advice of my friends and Twitter followers. Here is what we came up with:

Bootylicious by Destiny’s Child, Video by India.Arie, Real Girl by Mutya Buena, Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars, Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall, Endangered Species by Dianne Reeves, Present/Infant by Ani DiFranco, I Am Not My Hair by India.Arie ft. Akon, Beautiful by Christina Aguilera, Man! I Feel Like a Woman! by Shania Twain, Unpretty by TLC,  Respect by Aretha Franklin and Superwoman by Alicia Keys.

And my favorite, Affirmation, by Savage Garden:

Do you have a bad body image day playlist? If you do, what’s on it?

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

Read more about Chloe

Join the Conversation

  • Nick

    More a bad self-image thing for me. When I’m doubting my abilities, wondering if I’m a decent person, mad at myself for perceived or actual failings or weaknesses. The themes of the music matter less than the style. Loud and fast. With interesting vocals and intricate instrumentals and arrangements. Mostly metal and hard rock, especially – lately – Nightwish and Lacuna Coil. Just something that’ll fill my mind for a bit, get my toes tapping and my head nodding… then as I start to come out of the funk, I’m drumming on my desk and mouthing along with the lyrics and hey, I’m feeling better.

  • Danielle

    It’s not necessarily for a bad body image day, but whenever I’m feeling bad (body image or otherwise) one of my go-to songs is “You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up)” by Josh Groban.

  • Sandra Goodick

    “Not Perfect” by Tim Minchin. He’s a comedian but he has a song that kind of serious that includes the lines:

    This is my body and
    I live in it
    It’s 31 and 6 months old

    It’s changed a lot since it was new,
    It’s done things it wasn’t meant to do
    I often try to fill it up with wine

    And the funny thing about it is,
    I’ve spent so much time hating it
    but it never says a bad word about me

    This is my body and it’s fine
    It’s where I spend the vast majority of my time
    It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.

  • Kathy

    “Bad Body Double” by Imogen Heap comes to mind.

  • Don

    This isn’t really a song, but it’s full on awesome:

  • rhian

    just heard this recently, but i’m really liking “forest whitiker” by brother ali

    • Coreen

      That song is totally on my feel-better-about-myself list. I love Brother Ali. Favorite lines: You might think I’m depressed as can be / But when I look in the mirror I see sexy-ass me! Never fails to make me smile.

  • Amanda

    I love “Freckles” by Natasha Bedingfield (“Cuz a face without freckles is like a sky without stars/Why waste a second not loving who you are?”) because growing up (and sometimes still) didn’t like my freckles. I’m also a big fan of “So Unsexy” by Alanis Morissette (“I can feel so unsexy for someone so beautiful/So unloved, and for someone so fine/I can feel so boring for someone so interesting/So ignorant for someone of sound mind”) because it totally pegs those moments when you feel less than and is a healthy reminder that it’s okay to feel bad sometimes, but ultimately you don’t have to – you’re beautiful, fine, and smart. Now that’s an awesome thing. Thirdly, “Beautiful Flower” by India.Arie (“‘Cause you’re beautiful like a flower/More valuable than a diamond/You are powerful like a fire/You can heal the world with your mind”). And “Here to Stay” by Christina Aguilera (“I’ve never been the type to be shy/I know that some would say I’m too headstrong/But I’d rather be a woman who voices her mind/Whether you think I’m right or wrong”). It’s not so much a body song, but I think all insecurities are linked (and I LOVE Christina Aguilera). The days when I feel absolutely beautiful I feel better about everything else about me, too. The days when I don’t feel so great in one aspect of myself, I don’t feel great about other aspects of myself. It’s interesting to think about . . . great post!

  • Lauren

    India.Arie Beautiful Flower. Basically all India.Arie makes me feel overwhelmingly happy and strong.

  • Cori Mattli

    I really enjoyed this post. I feel like a bad feminist whenever I have negative feelings about my body because I think I should know better and not let such “trivial” things upset me. There are plenty of other things to worry about, yes? But obviously, feeling guilty about bad body image leads me nowhere. It helps to know that other smart feminists share similar feelings.

  • dena

    I absolutely adore “Golden” by Jill Scott and “Brown Skin” or “Video” by India Arie. Those are my go-to songs when I’m down or having a bad body image day.

  • Ariel

    “big girl (you are beautiful)” by mika. as a bbw i have my fair share of bad body image days, but this video [] never fails to make me dance and smile.

  • Nemo Omen

    I have a more general “Anthems” playlist. Some of the songs that might be relevant to this discussion are:

    Another Girl, Another Planet, The Only Ones
    Change, Tracy Chapman
    Don’t Stop Believin’, Journey
    Good Morning Starshine (from “Hair”)
    I Believe In You (“How to Succeed in Business ….”
    I Got Life (“Hair)
    I Got the Sun in the Morning (“Annie Get Your Gun”)
    Message to Myself , Melissa Etheridge
    There’s Nowhere to Go But Up, Julie Wilson
    Nowhere Fast, Fire Inc.
    You Gotta Be, Des’ree

    I would also add “Hair.”

    In general, I prefer songs whose lyrics aren’t too on the nose. I would never play “Bootylicious,” for example, because it’s too literal and to me, extremely crude. It would not make me feel better.

    “Not Perfect” sounds interesting, though.

  • Mary

    Forest Whitiker by Brother Ali!

  • Kristen Howe

    Simply put this is awesome and made my day!! I look forward to going home and creating my own playlist- it’s going to be called “I Kick *ss!” Thank you!!