Adolescence can be a tough time for teenagers when they are in the process of self-discovery and finding one’s place in the world. They are not only experiencing changes in their social set ups but also within themselves. This period is marked by a child’s transition into young adulthood. An individual undergoes drastic changes in their physical appearance as well as psychological development.
Teenagers often feel unhappy with how they look in the mirror. There are a number of factors that contribute to how a teen perceives themselves. They often have issues with their body image which thereby affects a person’s self-esteem.
The first and foremost contributor to this issue is social media. We now live in a day and age where we are bombarded with visuals on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram etc. These often project the ‘ideal body type’ which teens want to attain. They then seek validation for their photos, etc in the form of ‘likes’. This develops a perfectionist attitude within them, having adverse effects on their self-confidence. Cyber bullying is another threat to teens. Crude and harsh comments online are bound to hurt the sentiments of the recipient, making them question their self-worth.
The advertisements we see around also play a role in creating this unattainable level of perfection. They are designed in such a way that the consumer is to assume that they will have the ideal look only with the use of a certain product. Young girls are mostly affected by this as a lot of products like clothing, make-up, etc when advertised, are often sold to us by beautiful celebrities that appear to have the ideal look. When girls see this, especially if it’s their favourite celebrity, they are more likely to change their lifestyle in order to be like them. Girls often end up displeased with the way they look while trying to be like someone else.
Unfortunately, family members make comments and jabs at the appearances of their relatives. Although, it might feel like harmless teasing, these remarks hurt more coming from family. Young people are told to look a certain way by their family, sometimes, promising the prospect of a good spouse. Constant comparison with other people will leave them feeling wounded, affecting their mental health and how pleased someone is when they look in the mirror.
We have to remember that teenagers are also going through this time where they want the approval of others around them and are more likely to give in to peer pressure just to fit into the group. The dynamics within a peer group alter their behaviour and makes teens question how other might see them. Students are sometimes bullied for their appearances and this is bound to have a deep impact on their self-confidence.
Since we are aware of the reasons that teens might have issues with their body, it is important for parents in particular to have healthy discussions about the various changes that their child will experience during this stage of adolescence. Providing support and addressing their concerns with their physical changes will help create a safe space, allowing them to deal with their ever-changing emotions in the most appropriate way.