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Body & Image

Teenagers struggle with issues relating to body image more frequently than adults. Teens often watch their favorite athletes and actors on television or in the movies. They see images of the perfect body every time they flip through the pages of their favorite magazine. Teens can develop unhealthy eating habits or other body image problems because of the stimuli they face on a daily basis. A teenage girl might feel like she must look a certain way to be popular or get a boyfriend. If your teen suffers from body image problems, you can help.

The Influence of Popular Media

Popular media plays a key role in how your teen feels about his or her body. Celebrities frequently tout the benefits of a specific weight loss program or product. Some celebrities even express unhappiness with their own bodies when they are already underweight. Every time your teen sees one of these celebrities, he or she may feel unhappy with his or her body. Teens can suffer from these problems because of their favorite TV shows or movies. Remember that the greatest indirect role models are celebrities. A study by the Kaiser Foundation found that one out of every three magazines aimed at teen girls had a focus on beauty care products or ways to look good.

The Pressure to Look Good

Teens face pressure from their peers to look a certain way. The popular kids claim that girls can only look good if they lose weight, wear the right jeans, and have the right hairstyle. Some teens might develop problems because they swap clothing with their friends. If a friend’s favorite jeans are too tight, a young girl might think that she’s too heavy. Teens can suffer from peer pressure without realizing it, or exert pressure on their friends without knowing it. As a parent, you must listen to your teens for any signs of problems at school or with friends. Parents who notice their teenage girl complaining regularly about her weight can get her the help she needs before a serious problem develops.

Signs of Poor Body Image

The best thing that you can do for teens is keep an eye out for any potential warning signs of poor body image. Your teen might suddenly decide on a diet that involves eating less food than usual. Your teenage girl might try hiding her eating habits from you by claiming that she had a big snack after school or ate at a friend’s house. If she continues this pattern of behavior for longer than a few days, you might have a problem on your hands. Although being healthy is important, not eating enough is not healthy.

Physical Problems With Poor Body Image

Teens who that have problems with body image can exhibit some physical symptoms. Excessive dieting can lead to particular physical problems, including weakness, nervousness, inability to sleep, stomach problems and weakening of the bones. You can help your teenage girl stop using fad diets or excessive exercising by showing her how to eat healthy. Keep in mind that teenage girls are not the only ones who suffer with problems related to diet and exercise. Even teenage boys can have problems with poor body image. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, teenagers and those with low self-esteem are more likely than others to suffer from depression.

Emotional Problems With Poor Body Image

The emotional effects of poor body image are even more potentially dangerous than the physical problems. As self-esteem decreases, teens may have problems participating in after-school activities and in the classroom, and might withdraw from ordinary activities. Teens who suffer from poor self-worth are more likely to suffer from depression or experience suicidal thoughts. By teaching your children how to eat right, you can help them improve their body image.

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