Teen Body Image Issues – Here's All You Need To Know
Created by Nandini Muralidharan Updated on Apr 07, 2020
Teenage is a time when there are tons of changes in the mind and in the body. It is also a time of rebellion and a total nosedive or a skyrocket in self-esteem. And how a teenager develops depends so much on the environment around her. If you’ve seen your daughter get upset about how her face looks ‘fat’ in a selfie, or how she hasn’t got as many ‘likes’ on her profile pic as her friend, you need to seriously examine what her body image is. Yes, teenage body image issues are extremely common, and can prove detrimental if not addressed. Read on to find out more about how you can help your teenager develop a positive body image.
What Is Body Image?
Body image is the way a person perceives her body, whether she is comfortable with the way she looks, and how it affects her self-esteem. And so, one could either have a positive body image or a negative body image.
- With a positive body image, your teenager will be comfortable in her own skin, and not constantly be concerned about whether she has put on a kilo or two, or if her hair is a particular way or the other
- With a negative body image, a teenager will constantly criticize her own appearance, and will have a problem with the way she looks
What Are The Risk Factors For A Negative Body Image?
So why do some teenagers develop a negative body image? Here are some possible reasons why this happens:
Peer pressure:Constant comparisons in school and language among peer group that promotes a certain body type can lead to a negative body type. Sharing, ‘liking’ and ‘commenting’ on social media among peer group can be a huge factor in developing a negative body image
Home environment:You will be surprised, but many a time, words and actions from parents and family members can have a huge impact on how a teen perceives her body. Even when you comment on your own weight and how you need to lose a few kilos, your teen is listening
- <3>Health issues: Sometimes if your child has a health concern that leads to her body type being different from those of peers, it affects the way she feels about her body. And if it isn’t addressed, this can lead to depression or eating disorders
Negative Body Image - Signs To Watch Out For
So how do you tell if your child has a negative body image? Here are some signs that you can watch out for:
Loses interest:Your teenager seems to lose interest in eating, or other social activities and doesn’t want to participate in family discussions. If she has previously been active in pursuing a hobby or sport, she may lose interest in it suddenly
Constantly puts herself down:If you hear your teenager putting herself down all the time and criticizing her appearance, this is a sign of a negative body image
Change in eating habits:Your teenager may begin to eat lesser than usual, or much more than usual. Whatever the case, you’re better off keeping an eye out as extreme cases escalate into eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia
If you see any drastic changes in your teenager’s eating patterns, or a marked difference in appearance (extreme weight loss, dull eyes, constantly feeling chilly), please consult a doctor if you suspect an eating disorder. These are best treated as early as possible!
How To Help Your Teenager Develop A Positive Body Image
At the end of the day, you, as a parent have the power to help your teen through your unconditional love. Your child needs to know that you have her back. Here are some ways in which you can help your teen develop a positive body image:
Walk the talk:If your teen observes that you are comfortable with how you look, it is likely that she will try the same. And this doesn’t just mean changing what you say, but changing the entire outlook – focus more on health and less on appearance. Don’t look at yourself disapprovingly in the mirror and make remarks on your weight or the lines on your face. Instead, smile a lot more and eat healthy!
Listen, and empathize:When your teenager has a problem with the way she looks, take the time to talk about it, instead of being dismissive. When she knows that you understand her feelings, and that you aren’t pushing them under the carpet, she will feel a lot better. And the more she opens up to you, the more receptive she is to your empathy. Tell her how you dealt with it when you were a teenager
Get the family on board:Make sure nobody in the family makes any detrimental comments about appearance or weight. Get everyone to encourage your teenager with lots of love and support
Discuss what you see:When you watch something promoting unrealistic body types, bring it out in the open. Speak to your teen about it and ask for her opinion. Ask her what she thinks about it and what she would do differently
A teenager has a melting pot of emotions brewing inside. And at this sensitive stage, your teen needs you more than ever. It can be frustrating at times when you feel like you can’t get through to her, or she to you. But with patience and love, you can be the rock your teen needs.
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