The teenage years can be confusing enough as it is, bodies go through all sorts of changes and so do minds. Insecurities are magnified by all of the “perfect people” we see on social media and it can be hard enough for teens to accept themselves. It can feel so hard to keep a positive teen body image because body image issues in adolescence are so common.
Add the filter of dating and other people’s opinions about your appearance on top of that, and it can feel downright depressing. (Sidenote: If you’re struggling with anything, and need someone to talk to, here are some helpful hotlines for teens.)
You can work hard on loving yourself and building confidence, but that can all come crashing down pretty quickly when you enter the dating game.
Body Image Issues in Adolescence
There are some things people are insecure about which they can more or less hide or keep to themselves, but if you’re dealing with weight issues, it’s not easy to hide.
Young adults can be very insecure and they’ll often project those insecurities onto others.
Fashion often focuses on a very specific body type, but thankfully it’s more and more common to have good options available for people of a wider range of sizes. Dressing in a way that makes you feel comfortable and confident is a great way to improve your body image.
“Before you can decide what will suit your own figure you need to work out what your figure is,” explains an author from a website dedicated to plus size dating, but it’s good to dress for yourself, not for someone else. Wear what makes you feel good, and makes you like the way you look when you look at yourself in the mirror. Finding your style is a great way to have a more positive body image.
Positive Body Image During High School
It’s easy to think that young adulthood and the high school years are the be all end all because you haven’t experienced much else at that point, but there’s a lot more to life, and many people will learn to be more and more comfortable with their bodies as they are. The teenage years can be the most difficult for some people, which is why teen body image issues are so common. Learning to love yourself and be comfortable in your body is something that you can carry with you for life.
Signs of Negative Body Image in Teenagers
We’re conditioned by society to feel certain ways, sometimes without even realizing it. You could be suffering from a negative self-image in ways that hurt confidence, without even fully realizing it… Ask yourself…
Do you find yourself focusing primarily on perceived imperfections?
If you find yourself mostly focusing on the things you view as negatives, it’s an unhealthy sign. We all have things we don’t love about our bodies, but they shouldn’t be the primary focus.
Do you find yourself scrutinizing yourself in front of the mirror?
How much time do you spend in front of the mirror hating how you look? Do you dread seeing yourself? Remember, nobody else on this planet is putting nearly as much scrutiny on your appearance as you are, most likely.
Have people in your life set a negative tone?
If you’ve been in a relationship where someone had negative things to say about your appearance, or if you grew up with parents that are very critical of physical appearance, it’s very likely this could have rubbed off on you and helped contribute to teenage body insecurities.
Body image and self-esteem are very closely linked, so if you’re struggling with body image perceptions of yourself, recognize that this could also be dragging down your self-esteem, which can cause issues in other parts of your life.
That’s why it’s so important to recognize that you are going to spend your whole life in your body, so you might as well do your best to appreciate it and play to your strengths. Don’t waste time echoing hurtful words that people have said in the past, there’s no magical nor healthy way to lose 10 pounds a week for teenagers, and beating yourself up over other people’s perceptions will just make you feel worse.
How To Help a Teenager With Body Image Issues
Are you a parent who feels really sad when your teenager makes negative comments about themselves, or you can just tell they’re struggling with body image issues? Here’s some advice on how to help a teenager with body image issues, curated from various trustworthy sources around the web.
- Tips for guiding teens towards a healthy body image from Mayo Clinic
- Body image information from FamilyDoctor.org
- Self-esteem from WebMD
One thing to keep in mind is that body image issues can affect boys and girls alike. Oftentimes, this is something that’s more commonly associated with girls, but in reality, everybody is affected by body image and self-esteem struggles.
More Resources About Having a Positive Teen Body Image
- PositivePsychology has some helpful worksheets that are worth taking a look at.
- Activities like Yoga can help you to get in touch with your body in a positive way. Here are some beginner poses.