Weight issues are among teenagers’ biggest concerns. Aside from personal pressure, teenagers are facing peer pressure and cultural pressure to look a certain way. In fact, the influence of pop culture affects not only teenagers but virtually every age group. There is prevalent pressure to stay slim and thin, and this pressure is felt by skinny, average and overweight teenagers. Keeping up with the standard small waistline can cause dangerous health problems for teens. It’s important to recognize the influence popular media and your peers have on your eating habits in order to prevent mental and physical problems in the future.
Why Teens Have Weight Issues
During the adolescence stage, teenagers experience numerous physical changes that affect their overall physical appearance. During this time of life, teens are most likely to gain weight and because of the associated hormonal changes, teens often feel more anxious and conscious of their physical image. Teens feel a the need to fit in with their peers and may feel extreme pressure to look good in front of other people. As they struggle with their desire to be thin, teens may develop eating disorders. They are also susceptible to mental health problems like depression, which may occur in conjunction with eating disorders.
Bulimia and anorexia are two of the most common eating disorders that are observed in teenagers. These disorders can cause severe side effects to physical and mental health, and even lead to death. While anorexia and bulimia are the most common eating disorders, there are various others that may occur in teens, such as:
- Binge eating
- Extreme dieting
- Abusive use of laxatives
- Compulsive overeating
- Rumination, which affects babies and young children
Long-term eating disorders can be incredibly damaging to one’s health and even life-threatening. It is important to address the disorder as quickly as possible to prevent serious health complications. If you or a teen you know has an eating disorder, discuss treatment options for teenage eating disorders with your physician. Effective treatment can address the root causes of the disorder and help the teen to deal with their body image issues.
Weight-related problems are often rooted in low self-esteem. Teenagers with a lack of confidence suffer from psychological pressures and are more prone to depression and self-harming behavior. A teen’s emotional and mental health may suffer if she constantly worries about how other people view her. When that worry translates into self-harming behavior, like an eating disorder, physical health issues may follow.
Effects of Peers and Pop Culture
The beauty standards set by popular media can feed into serious weight image problems in teenagers. The media also heightens the effects of peer pressure on weight issues. Teenagers may feel the need to meet the ideal weight standard set by their peers, and their peers inadvertently get that information from popular culture.
Popular Media Pressure on Weight Issues
The images reflected by the media can influence the way teenagers look at themselves. Teens are somewhat fixated on popular culture, and they hope to adapt to those standards by trying to look skinny and beautiful. The ideal weight and the ways to reach it are often displayed on commercials, television series, movies and magazines. There is no doubt that the media plays an important role in setting the ultimate, and most often unrealistic, beauty standards.
Influence of Peers
The people around you, especially your peers, greatly influence the way you view yourself. You may feel left out because you are too thin; likewise, you may feel like an outsider because you are overweight. Bullying makes matters worse by instilling shame and fear along with the pressures of maintaining the right weight. It also lowers a teenager’s self-esteem, and may lead to losing too much weight or developing health issues as the result of an eating disorder. Your peers’ opinions may also persuade you to change your appearance to look more like they do. This can lead to problems with weight and overall self-image issues in teens.
As a teenager who will one day grow into an adult, it is your responsibility to be aware of the things that could be either beneficial or harmful to your well-being. The decisions you make now may have repercussions that you deal with for the rest of your life. While there is nothing wrong with listening to other people’s opinions, it’s important to form your own opinions based on what you think is healthy. You’ll live a happier and healthier life if you find confidence in who you are as an individual, rather than conforming to others’ views of what constitutes beauty.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder or issues with self-confidence, contact us today. We are happy to provide more information to help you.