Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! I’m working on a Coming of Age Novel, I’m excited about this one, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. The story delves into the complexity of relationships whether it’s a friendship, mother/daughter relationship, or mentor/trainee relationship.
As I was writing this story, I started thinking about teens and all the issues they face during the teen years. As parents, we have to remember teens are experiencing many of their feelings for the first time and they haven’t learned how to deal with them yet. Some of these feelings can be very powerful and overwhelming.
An area that seems to cause so much trouble, especially for young girls, is the area of body image. During the teen years, a girl’s body goes through many changes. These changes can trigger feelings of insecurity.
The unfortunate thing about these feelings is that teens don’t know how to cope with them, and many get into the habit of comparing their body with the bodies of their peers. In my opinion, this leads them down the destructive path of comparison and competition.
This is unhealthy because it can lead to eating disorders and other unhealthy behaviors. I remember my own experiences as a teen. I ran cross-country in high school and so I was relatively skinny. Quite a few of my peers would tell me I was too skinny. I was sensitive so I took these comments to heart and started to have negative feelings about my thinness. Until one day, I was at lunch with my friends and the conversation turned to dieting and diet pills. I noticed the girls who were telling me I was too skinny were taking diet pills to squash their appetite. I didn’t voice this to anyone, but I remember thinking, if I’m too skinny why are you taking diet pills? As you can see it’s not just the overweight girls who struggle, the thin ones do too.
Many people blame the media for causing this body image issue because they promote airbrushed bodies and faces. However, studies show it’s not these images that cause the issues; it’s the comparison and competition among peers that cause it. See this article for further info: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/31/body-image-issues-for-you_n_2590719.html
As teen relationships move to the internet arena, studies have found that young girls who use social media sites are more prone to negative body image, anorexia, and bulimia.
Many young girls will post images of themselves and according to this article from Huffington Post; forty-one percent of women from the ages of 18-24 retouch their photos before posting them to social media sites. To read the article, click on this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/31/body-image-issues-for-you_n_2590719.html
In my opinion, we as parents need to help our girls develop an appreciation for their bodies before they start changing. We need to compliment them on how strong and capable they are. We need to direct their focus on how important it is to be healthy and not on how they look.
For example, when I focused on how good I felt after a run, I didn’t worry about whether I was too skinny or not. I just felt good. I was healthy and I ate what sounded good at the time. If that was a double cheeseburger and fries, so be it. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by and reading my post today. If you have any memories or tips you’d like to share about promoting a healthy body image please do! I’d love to read them.
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10 thoughts on “Teens and Body Image Issues”
Excellent article, Lisa! I noticed when my daughter was in middle school, that when one girl goes down the severe dieting path, her behavior can trigger competition, leading more girls to indulge in risky dieting or purging. Parents need to watch for changes not only in their children’s eating habits, but in the behavior of their friends.
Thanks for stopping by Ariella! You’re absolutely right. This type of competition is very scary. 🙂
Really interesting article, Lisa, and a subject that’s close to my heart. It was my concern about even young children being obsessed with body image that promped me to write Perfect Summer. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by Karen. I think girls have struggled with body image issues for years. I’m going to have to check out your book, “Perfect Summer.” 🙂
I applaud you for this post, Lisa!
As you know I’ve got two girls and sometimes mention their “looks” in a funny or joking sentence. I am lucky that both understand the “joke” and don’t interpret too much in the words said. It’s a very important and tricky issue for us parents to be aware of!
I think society has put pressure on the young ones by telling them what “the ideal” is, but some are slowly changing their thinking and approach and leaving kids to being kids!
Awww…thanks Iris! I appreciate you stopping by and I agree with you that society has created this “ideal.” It’s unfortunate that this ideal creates competition at the peer level. It’s my theory that this type of competition creates the “mean girls” syndrome. 🙂 I hope this is changing for the better!
I don’t have girls, I just have boys, but even then they struggle with these issues. My boys are normal weight, but one was quite tall, while my youngest was always the shortest in his class. It was really interesting to see what different responses these boys received from both adults and other kids as a result of things that were total genetic accidents. I think people need to learn not to make personal remarks to people based on their looks – even a simple comment can have a long-lasting impact.
Thanks for stopping by Adrian and I agree with you 100%! Society should be focusing on building every child’s self esteem not eradicating it with thoughtless remarks. 🙂 I have boys too so I’ll be sure to watch for these issues in them as well.
We talk a lot about keeping our bodies healthy and making healthy choices, without focusing on a number or size. It is so hard with girls, though. Way too much pressure to be skinny. Great post!-Ashley
Thanks for stopping by Ashley! I appreciate your thoughts. By focusing on keeping our bodies healthy, you’re moving in the right direction. Good luck to you and your girls!