Body Image Issues
Adolescence marks a time of rapid and intense emotional and physical change. Adolescents often think a lot about how their bodies look and compare it with others. There may be an increased value placed on peer acceptance and approval. Body image and related self-concept emerge as significant factors associated with health and well-being during this developmental phase, as they begin to focus more on their physical appearance.
Many adolescents may relate physical appearance as a major aspect of their self-esteem and their body as a major sense of self. The experience of body dissatisfaction may lead to poor health habits and low self-esteem. These negative feelings may affect health behaviors associated with poor eating habits, excessive dieting, anxiety, and other eating disorders.
A positive teenage body image is an important part of healthy self-esteem, and may help the adolescent to think and feel positive about his/her body. It gives them the power to believe in themselves and confidence to make healthy choices for their mind and body throughout their life.
To put it simply: Adolescents need to feel a sense of comfort about how they look, and not let their looks dominate their sense of self-worth. To achieve this, parents can support their adolescent in the following ways:
1. Be a good role model by making them learn the right eating behaviors which include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, etc.
2. Get them into the exercise habit and emphasize fitness, health and social interaction; and emphasize on enjoyment as the motivation for exercise, rather than weight loss or weight management.
3. Encourage the confidence of the teenager by supporting and emphasizing on problem solving, expression of feelings, opinions and individuality.
4. Promote critical thinking in adolescents by exploring with them about advertising claims regarding diet and body.
5. Guiding realistic and balanced thinking regarding body weight, BMI, etc.
Promoting a healthy body image may help the adolescent feel beautiful overall-the whole person that they are-and at the same time deemphasizing beauty as the focus of her identity.
"A strong positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success in life"-Dr. Joyce Brothers