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Body Image and Teen Self Esteem

Body Image and Teen Self Esteem | Paradigm Malibu

As you can imagine, teens place a lot of emphasis on their appearances. Their dress, makeup, weight, height, hair color, hair style, and even their tattoos and body piercing have plenty to say about who they are. Teens can receive subtle and blatant feedback about whether they are being accepted among their peers, and this plays a significant role in their self-esteem and self confidence.


Along with the feedback they are receiving from those around them, the way that teens feel about their body can also influence their self esteem. For instance, some teens may have underlying beliefs about their body that might be dysfunctional. They might believe that they are overweight, for instance, when they are not. They may believe that there nose is too big when it’s perfectly proportionate to other facial features. It’s common for some female teens to believe that their breasts are too small or that there is something wrong with their appearance.


Essentially, body image is how one views his or her physical self. This might include whether a teen feels attractive and whether that teen feels that others like the way that he or she looks. For many teens, body image can be closely linked to self-esteem. Self-esteem can be defined as how worthy a person feels and how that person feels about others valuing them. Self-esteem is important because feeling good about who you are can affect mental health and behavior.


Because teens are so dependent upon image and for those who believe that something is “wrong” with their bodies, it’s possible that a disorder might develop. Certain disorders can arise out of a desperate need to look good in the face of feeling that something is wrong. For instance, eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, and addiction can develop. In severe cases, a teen might have a belief that contributes to self-doubt, such as being internally flawed, or somehow lacking something essential and which only continues to contribute to the feeling of self hate.


What seems to make this situation worse is the fact that it’s common to hear people say, “I’m too fat” or “I’m not pretty enough” or “I’m overweight”. It’s common to hear negative comments about oneself from others. And teens are no exception. However, because adolescence is so dependent upon physical appearances, having negative beliefs about oneself can lead to mental illness.


If you feel that you’re in this category, you may want to speak to someone about it before it’s too late. For instance, you might want to talk to a school counselor, teacher, or parent. No matter whom you talk to make sure that that person is someone you trust. Make sure that you feel comfortable sharing with him or her how you really feel.


Also, if you are already experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder, it’s essential that you get help. Eating disorder symptoms include:

  • Signs of restricted eating – dieting, low food intake, or fasting.
  • Odd food ritual – cutting food into pieces, counting bites.
  • Intense fear of becoming fat, regardless of an already low weight
  • Fear of food and certain situations where food is present.
  • Rigid exercise schedule
  • Dressing in layers to hide weight loss.
  • Binging.
  • Use of laxatives, enemas, or diuretics to eliminate food in the body.
  • Weight loss in a short period of time.
  • Cessation of menstruation without a physiological cause.
  • Paleness
  • Complaints of feeling cold
  • Dizziness and fainting spells.
  • Mood swings
  • Perfectionist attitude
  • Insecurities about her capabilities despite actual performance
  • Feelings of self-worth are determined by what is or is not eaten.
  • Withdrawal from people.
  • Self-acceptance comes from external sources.


These are a few signs of experiencing an eating disorder which is can result from having an unhealthy body image and low self esteem. If you’re seeing these signs in yourself or someone you love, be sure to contact a mental health professional today.



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