Teen Body Image

Having a strong self esteem and positive teen body image can be very difficult for any teenager, and even more so for an overweight teen. Teen body image is not always about weightloss and dieting. Keep reading for tips on helping your adolescent develop a positive teen body image.


The teenage years are tumultuous. Teens are unsure of themselves, since they are just discovering who they are and who they want to be. There is immense pressure to conform to certain standards, and many teenagers feel as though they “need” to look and act a certain way. If teenagers do not feel as though they fit in, or if they are discontented with the way they look, this can result in feelings of depression, social anxiety and other problems.

Body image is one of the main challenges that teenagers - and even many adults - deal with. Body image is how you see yourself. Teen body image is shaped by how a teenager feels he or she looks. This might be in comparison to their peers, or to pictures in the media. You don’t want your teenager to feel bad about his or her body, so it is important to help cultivate a positive teen body image. Part of this involves actually physical efforts in promoting physical health, and the other part involves teaching your teenager to like his or her body.

While you want to encourage healthy habits, you need to be careful about judging your child based solely on his or her weight, and you need to be wary about some of the remarks you make.

Helping develop a positive teen body image

As a parent you have influence over how your teen develops his or her teen body image. Here are some things you can do to encourage a better body image in your teenagers:

  1. Try to avoid making comments that indicate someone is more attractive because he or she is so thin or skinny.
  2. Do your best to avoid speaking negatively about weight and food.
  3. Be aware of what your teen is watching and reading. Be available to talk to him or her about teen body image, and the unrealistic pictures that are seen in the media.
  4. Pay attention to where your teenager goes online. Keep the computer in a public area, and be on the alert in case your teen starts spending time on pro-anorexia websites, or becomes obsessed with dieting. Talk about the health concerns of such behavior.
  5. Compliment the success your teen has related to academic achievement, extra-curricular activities and family involvement. Notice when your teen does good things. Make sure that most of your compliments are connected to his or her actions and intellect, rather than solely related to how they look.
  6. Avoid making negative comments about your teenager’s weight. If you are concerned about a teen’s weight, don’t belittle him or her for it. Express your concern for your teenager’s health, and suggest that your entire family begin living healthier.
  7. Make health changes as a family.
  8. Maintain open channels of communication. Your teenager needs to feel comfortable talking to you about food, concerns about weight, his or her teen body image, and the pressures he or she may be feeling. Be a good listener, and try to avoid making judgments about your teen.
  9. Keep nutritious food available in the home. There are a number of fun and healthy snacks, as well as interesting foods. Try new things, and keep healthy, easy to prepare snacks on hand so that your teen can have access to them.
  10. Have family outings that involve exercise. Walks, bike rides, trips to the park, hiking and other outings can be fun and encourage good exercise habits.
  11. Let your teenager take a turn cooking something he or she likes. Find new recipes online, and make healthy food preparation interesting.

In the end, it’s up to you to set a good example. You need to show your teenager the importance of a healthy lifestyle by living one yourself. Get your entire family involved, and talk about looks in terms of health. Of course, it is best if you can avoid fixating on looks. Encouraging a healthy view of food, and including exercise, can be a good way to help your teen learn to take good care of his or her body. It is possible to be satisfied with your body, without fixating on looks. Teach your teen to aim for health and wellness, and a positive teen body image is more likely to follow.

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