Contrary to popular belief, body confidence has nothing to do with your dress size. In fact, recent research suggests that even women who met the so-called slim ideal were just as likely to be unhappy with their body as women who didn’t.

So when it comes to body confidence, isn’t it more about how you feel, than how you look? Break the bad body-image cycle with these confidence-boosting tips from Simply Be’s fashion and lifestyle expert Annaliese Watkins.

Wear clothes you feel good in

That dress you wore to your friend’s wedding last summer. The jeans you’ve had since you were 16. The coat that makes you feel like Audrey Hepburn. We’ve all got at least one item of clothing that makes us feel amazing. Decide what it is about these pieces that you love so much and shop for similar pieces. There are no rules here - if you think you look amazing in it, go for it.

Speak the right body language

You’d never dream of standing in a room and loudly declaring “I hate my muffin top!”, but our bodies can give our insecurities away with us even uttering a word. Simple gestures such as folding your arms or covering your tummy with a cushion are clear indicators that you’re unhappy with your body. Instead, try standing as tall as you can, pulling your shoulders down and back and lifting your head up. If you project it on the outside, you’ll soon feel it on the inside.

Stop comparing yourself

While there’s nothing wrong with admiring someone’s figure or the way they’ve styled their hair, making comparisons that reinforce your negative self-image is an unhealthy habit to get into. If you fall into a vortex of envy every time you log into Facebook or dwell over photos of celebs in magazines, simply walk away. And don’t forget, these images aren’t always what they seem.

Learn to accept compliments

For many women, receiving a compliment will result in bashful embarrassment, dismissal of the praise and some sort of self-deprecating comment. Get into the habit of graciously accepting kind words with a smile and a simple “thank you”. Let the compliment sink in, be registered by your body and mind and allow yourself to believe it.

Focus on your body’s abilities

Instead of fixating on what your body looks like, learn to appreciate all the things it can do. You can walk, run, dance, jump, plus whatever else you’re fabulous at (singing, knitting, painting…). Give yourself credit for the things your body achieves every day and adjust your goals; don’t strive to be something, work towards doing something, such as a charity run, or winning in a local sports league.

Surround yourself with positivity

Self-worth is something that is best achieved from within, but a compliment from a boyfriend, colleague or even a complete stranger seems to go a really long way in making us feel awesome. Similarly, if one of those people had said something negative about our looks, it can go a really long way to making us feel terrible. Keep the company of people who help you feel good about yourself and reconsider your relationship with those who tear you down.

Get the foundations right

They say it’s what’s underneath that counts and that’s certainly true when it comes to lingerie. Wearing the right underwear is an important but often neglected piece of the confidence puzzle and can make or break how you feel for the day. In fact, a 2012 survey found that push up bras can increase a woman’s confidence by 75%.

Get an alter ego

Develop your very own alter ego! Especially effective if you’ve got a big event coming up, this isn’t about pretending to be someone else; your alter ego is you, with an added dose of confidence. The best bit? No one will ever know you’re faking it! Just remember, no one is more fabulous than you.