Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Teens and Body Image

Coping with fluctuations in our self-esteem is something that almost everyone struggles with. Today's teenagers seem to battle with both body image and self-esteem issues more than ever before. Things like cyber bullying and abusive behavior through the use of social media has only made dealing with this difficult issue even harder for both parents and teens. Portrayals of what "the ideal body" should look like on television shows, movies, and music have only managed to add to the pressure that many teens already feel. Modern media has created an environment for teenagers where they're often made to feel as if they have no self-worth if they're not held to these "ideal" standards. The problem has become so pronounced and widespread among both young men and women that many are calling for a reform of those "ideal" images in favor of healthier role models.
In addition to the media's influence, peer pressure has also contributed to self-esteem levels plummeting. Teenagers are just beginning to enter the stages of puberty; so things like body, hair, and voice changes can already make them feel self-conscious. With pressures from family members, school, and friends, it can often become overwhelming. Sadly, many male and female teens suffer from eating disorders, including bulimia or anorexia, with potentially deadly consequences. All of the pressure to look a certain way and be a certain size has created a new epidemic of body dysmorphic disorder; meaning some teens can only see the flaws in their appearance and often obsess over them to the point where they cannot function normally. In most cases the problems with body image perception from body dysmorphic disorder is simply imagined, and there are, in reality, no serious physical problems; sadly, those with a low self-esteem are often unable to realize this.
Increased self-esteem comes with a sense of belonging. Teens need to feel like they are part of a group and have a solid network of loving, supportive family and friends around them. Sports and other after school programs can help teenagers feel that they are a part of something important - that they've been accepted and valued. It also helps them learn how to build good relationships with their peers.
In order to increase self-esteem, teenagers must learn to love and accept themselves as they are. Building each other up with complements and helping friends who need it are two ways teenagers can help each other feel better as well as themselves. Many teens tend to bully others about trivial things, like someone's clothing choices or hairstyle. If you are getting bullied, it's important that you talk to an adult you trust like a teacher, coach, principal, or your parents. Bullying is never acceptable and no one should be subjected to abusive behavior. Do things that help build your self-esteem, and surround yourself with positive people and things. Over time, you will be able to accept yourself and be happy with who you are.

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