Detecting and Tackling Body Image Issues in Teens

How many times have we asked our friends or family, “Does this make me look fat?”

Daily we analyze every ripple, stretch mark, jiggle, or blemish plaguing our bodies. We are acutely aware of any pounds gained or lost, graying locks, rising muffin tops, or sprouting chin hairs. Yes. For many of us, male or female, we struggle daily with our body images and self acceptance.

Unfortunately, just like us, our kids are also dealing with body image issues. With this in mind, think back to our own floundering stages of adolescence. Our bodies were changing and becoming unfamiliar as we navigated a world of peer pressure, hormones, and crimped hair. This phase of life was full of angst, but with a little luck we emerged from the awkwardness with only minor damage.

Understanding Body Image Today

The definition of “body image” relates to how someone views their own body or feels how others see them. As our sons and daughters agonize over deepening voices or burgeoning hair follicles, they may become more sensitive or aware of their developing bodies. If a child forms a poor body image, this can cause a variety of devastating behaviors to surface; ultimately, leading to lifelong struggles or health problems.

Today’s preteens and teens are experiencing this transitioning cycle to adulthood just like their parents and grandparents did before them. However, unlike back in our day, today’s kids are exposed to a culture fixated on social media and technological devices which place a great deal of importance on a child’s physical appearance.

As our kids scramble to gain likes, friends, tags, or shares they might begin to hyper focus on their bodies. This can lead our children to seek out harmful information, such as “pro-anorexia” sites or challenges, on the Internet to help them mold a perfect image.

This might not seem frightening, but experts suggest that 70 percent of our kids take measures to hide their online activity from us. Whether they merely dim the screens or download inappropriate apps, parents need to be aware of the dangerous behaviors children are learning online. Coupled with the fact that the teenage brain is undergoing a surge of growth, we need to understand how a child’s mind can inadvertently become hardwired for a lifelong struggle of negative behaviors.

For more information regarding our children’s body image issues and potential repercussions, please read the following infographic: