Child Psychology and Behaviour

Is your teenager unhappy with their 'imperfect' body?

Shikha Batra
11 to 16 years

Created by Shikha Batra
Updated on Sep 16, 2020

Reviewed by Expert panel

“I’m not satisfied with my body”!   exclaims Anika, a 13-year-old girl while disclosing her feelings to her mom.

“I will do anything to have a perfect body including workouts for 10-11 hours a day and dieting”! says with conviction a 14-year-old teenage boy who is just not happy with his short stature and physical appearance. 

Are you too, the parent of one such teenager who struggles with bad feelings about his/her figure and physical appearance? If yes, this video has important tips for you in terms of What can be your role in helping your child develop a positive body image and self-esteem.

These days we have many apps which have editing options to make us look thinner or to enhance our features and to beautify our photos.  Photoshopped images of perfection are setting the trend. All this is being done to chase the “perfect” body that really doesn’t exist, at least not in the way it is projected in the media. To glorify it further the social media, television, movies, commercials and magazines are playing a  big role and becoming a cause for huge disappointment especially for children and teenagers who have poor body image and are chasing the “perfect” body.  These unrealistic and unattainable portrayals of “perfect body” can wreak havoc on the teens’ self-image, which can impact all other aspects of their life. 

The question arises what is body image and its relevance in the life of a teenager.

Body image is how a teenager views his/her own body and what s/he thinks and feels about his/her physical appearance and how s/he thinks others perceive his/her looks. It might or might not match your body’s actual shape and size.  A positive body image can help a teenager feel confident and comfortable in his /her own skin. When a teen feels good about his/her body they are more likely to have good- self-esteem. Body-image is influenced by many factors such as family environment, the attitudes of peers, social media, cultural background and more. 

Many teens have this craving for validation from their peers and social media is one such quick way to get instant feedback. Some of them spend hours trying to capture a selfie at just the right angle while there are others who gauge their appearance based on the number of likes received on their latest photo update on social sites such as Facebook or Instagram. They might even risk having depression, eating disorders and suicidal tendencies in extreme cases in chasing a perfect body.

The good news is that we as parents can play a critical role in helping our teenager develop a positive self- image irrespective of their size or shape. We can help them get through this tough time of their life when they feel self-conscious and hyper-aware of every blemish and extra pound and are too intrigued with the idea of having a perfect body and flawless skin.

  1. Pay attention to the examples you are setting as your teen does notice you. So, if you are constantly criticizing extra flab on your tummy or thinning hair,  she will learn to focus on her/his flaws instead of her good qualities. Be a good role model by adopting an exercise regime, eating healthier, changing your lifestyle instead of cribbing about how to shed those extra kilos.

  1. Compliment your teen by praising them for who she is and what he can do rather than her size or shape. Give positive feedback as these will help her in developing a positive body image. Avoid making critical remarks about her body which will further discourage her and make her feel worse.

  1. Try and make your teen aware of how often images are digitally manipulated and gimmicks are adopted by the media to sell their products such as airbrushing, photoshop, cosmetic surgery, and other tricks. Teach them to learn to differentiate between the reel and real life.

  1. Focus your interest in their passions and pursuits. Support their talents and skills like music, art, sports and praise her for positive traits like how caring she is, her focus on schoolwork to name a few. Also, let her know the time and again that health matters more than looks.

  1. Make good health a family affair as it will make your teen feel less isolated. Going for a family walk, adopting a ritual of having family dinners, joining yoga classes with your teen can work wonders and also will help in building good habits to last a lifetime.

Many teenage boys and girls feel dissatisfied if their own bodies don’t measure up when compared with those of buff athletes and celebrities they see. Unhealthy teenage body image is directly related to low self-esteem, leading to negative moods and mood swings.  Our role becomes more crucial during such times to help them accept and appreciate their own body and feel satisfied with their appearance. Hope you will find this video useful! 

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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