Is your teen daughter recently cribbing about excess calorie intake? Is she shopping more of skinny clothes? Well, all thanks to media; an average teen spends about 9 hours a day using media for entertainment.
Your teen is always watching “teenager’s body image” commercials. These unrealistic commercials and unattainable portrayals of using beauty products can create great damage to your teen’s mind if you’re not careful.
The effects of body image these days can be powerful during the teenage years. Although it’s perfectly normal to have negative thoughts and feelings about your looks but, finding ways to be positive is the key to building a healthy body image and positive self-esteem.
What is body image?
As your teens’ body grows and transforms, they become self-conscious and crib about every pimple and extra kilos they gain. Because they hang out with their friends; they often are mesmerized and misled about the ‘ideal body image’ which is actually photoshopped and impossible to measure up. These kinds of messages can easily convince that they are too short, too fat, not so good looking.
The good news is that, as a parent, you can avoid the issues of ‘teenager’s body image’ and it’s influences while creating a positive self-image, no matter what size or shape they are.
Why is body image an important aspect of a teenager’s life?
The definition of body image has undergone a huge makeover over the past years. Men and women both are taking keen interest to groom their personalities. It is no surprise if teens too are following the footsteps.
Why it is important and why do we need to care about the ‘body image’? Simply, because it helps you, have a positive outlook towards life and makes you feel proud of the person you are, both inside and out.
The majority of teens who have high self-esteem tend to have better relationships with peers and adults, find it easier to deal with mistakes or disappointments and are more likely to stick to a task until they succeed.
A good body image can give you:
- The nerve to try new things
- Supremacy to believe in yourself
- The self-assurance to make healthy choices for the mind and body.
Guiding tips to improve teenage body image & self-esteem:
Some teens think, “When I lose weight, I’ll like my body. But it is important to start accepting the way you are. Find reasons to love it. Take good care of your body. When you happen to love your body the way it is; it becomes easy to treat it with healthy choices. Here are a few important tips for parents who have teen kids:
1. Be a good role model:
Your teen can grasp instantly hence; he/she is watching your lifestyle, eating habits, and attitudes closely. Pay attention to the examples you are giving, and make changes accordingly ensuring that they are age appropriate. You can minimize the use of social media, start having a healthy eating discipline, etc.
Remember, you are a role model for your child, therefore, he will imitate your attitude as well as your body. So if you are constantly criticizing your hip size or hair, your teen too will learn to focus on the flaws instead of his good qualities.
2. Educate your teen about the side-effects of social media:
Tell your son to not believe all the things they see on television, magazines and social media. Educate him about Photoshop and how these tricks can make one look younger, slime and desirable. Let your teen know about several other things like cosmetic surgeries and other beautifying things that these celebrities use.
3. Be positive:
Do not make grave remarks about your teen’s body. If he has a weight problem, he is aware of it and probably struggling hard to get rid of the extra fat. Your comments on him will only make the matter worse and make him feel discouraged.
Instead, compliment him for his smile, or appreciate the way he dresses, etc. Remember when you give positive feedback, you are setting an example of healthy body image for him.
4. Put qualities over looks:
It is important that as a parent you support your teen’s skills and talents they have rather than focusing on their looks. Appreciate about how good they are in sports, dance, music and such activities. Show interest in her passions and pursuits.
Praise the good things you love about her, like how she can make you laugh, her focus on schoolwork, or the way she looks out for her younger siblings. Focus on health over looks whenever you can.
Effects of social media on body image:
We have understood that movies, magazines, and television can easily influence our teen generation. This social media can damage teens’ body image by enforcing a “thin ideal.”
Social media today has a great impact when it comes to confidence. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are delivering the tools that allow teens to earn approval for their appearance and compare themselves with others.
The most vulnerable users are the teenagers here, researchers say, who are spending their majority of the time in posting pictures, commenting on and comparing themselves with other’s photos.
P.S: This doesn’t mean social media is the cause of many problems, but there’s a strong association between them.
Body image issues and effects on teens:
Not every one of us is happy the way we look and feel. Most of us want to change some of the other things about the way we look. For some reason, this growing dissatisfaction in teens has become a constant worry. The teens are unable to focus on their – studies, career or their daily routine. This is considered to be an issue of body image.
Body image issues can affect teenagers both boys and girls but in different ways. Teen girls will always want to follow their favorite movie star or celebrity and look thin, whereas boys are heading towards making six packs in the gym. Today, social media also plays a critical role among adolescents, seeking validation from their friends through ‘likes’ for their photos.
Some teens are experiencing that it is leading towards developing a negative body image which includes:
- Mocking and lewd comments from friends about their body.
- Constantly being bullied by the siblings if they are good looking and always a target of comparison of the body image they have.
- Tormented at school or college for their body size or shape.
- They have developed low self-confidence.
- Wish to have a perfectionist attitude.
- Peer pressure to look perfect and ‘fit-in’.
Adolescents with poor body image become moody and avoid social situations because they assume they are not fit for public appearance. Thoughts about poor body image can badly affect your teen’s day to day life which can further lead to mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, or in extreme cases, eating disorders, etc.
How to help teens improve self-image?
With time, the nature of the parent-child relationship has changed. Today, parents and children are seen discussing different topics of interest openly. You can take the lead and initiate a frank discussion with your teen kids to know what they think and feel about their self-image and how they wish to look like.
Make your teenager accept and acknowledge that every teenager’s body undergoes through changes during puberty, and it is a normal process. Talk to them about how the concept of beauty and the ideal body size keeps changing for e.g. you can show them earlier photographs of how ‘healthy looking body’ was in trend and now it is size zero.
You may also want to read: Stages of puberty among girls
Want your teen look and feel the best? Below are some tips:
1. Do not feel ashamed of your own body:
Let your teen child know that no one is perfect. Everyone wants to be liked and accepted just as they are. Which is true and this is the way how one should look at it. See your body the way it is and criticize it less. It is wrong to body-shame yourself.
When you make harsh comments about your own body, it also hurts your self-confidence. It is true whether you say it out loud or keep thinking about it all the time, be kind towards your body and respect it.
2. Building a better habit:
Does your teen have a habit of putting her body down? To break that bad habit, it is crucial to building a good one in the place. Ask them to make a list of what they like about themselves and make sure that they write new things about it every day. Help them find good things about the looks, the hair, face, hands, etc. Also, tell them to write down their good qualities.
3. Focusing on your body than looks:
Educate your teen to know that there is more and beyond the looks. Tell them that when they play sports like swimming, badminton, baseball, tennis their body spurs into action.
This has a positive effect on the overall system making feel good about it. It is your body who does all the actions like climbing, stretching, jumping for you to be amazed at such a wonderful unique body and be thankful.
4. Good sleep:
Getting good sleep is equally important. Researches have shown that irregular sleeping patterns are one of the primary reasons in teens to gain weight and look ugly.
Teach your teen about how many hours of sleep you need in their age. Get to bed on time. Turn off screens hours before bedtime so that you’re teen can sleep well.
5. Teach your teen to maintain a healthy weight:
It is important that your teen eats healthy food to maintain a healthy weight. To look good one has to feel and eat healthy. Educate your teen kids about the side effects of sugary items, fried food, colas, and junk food.
Minimize eating outside food. For the right guidance on diet, consult a dietician so that healthy weight is attained in the right manner.
Sometimes, body image issues are too much to handle alone. Teenage health issues, depression, or trauma have affected how your teen feels about himself/herself. Talk to a doctor or take help of a therapist about what your teen is going through. Ask for help, body image issues in teens can get better with care and help.