Teen Eating Disorder and Body Image

Developing Positive Self-Image in Teens

With an overwhelming amount of computerized bodies and looks that are impossible to achieve, teens often feel the pressure of living up to standards set by society.  Developing positive body image and a high self-esteem for teens is important and can help avoid any eating disorders or mental illness. Teen eating disorder and body image issues are important to recognize and treat before they become a more-serious illness.

Often found to be linked to depression, alcohol and drug abuse, as well as sexual promiscuity and relationship issues, eating disorders are not only constrained to females. While girls are often pressured by the appearance of models, celebrities and even their friends to be thin, boys often get compared to buff athletes and movie stars on strict diets and workout schedules.

There are a few things you can do for your own child, or a teen close to you, to help develop a positive body image and raise their self-esteem. Being a good role model with your eating habits and lifestyle choices can help demonstrate to your teen how these choices affect their entire life. Teaching your child that what they see on television and in movies is not the average appearance and should not be strived for can help them avoid working towards impossible and unhealthy goals.

There are many ways to encourage a positive body image and eating habits and choosing one that fits your teen’s unique personality and emotional stability is important. Teen eating disorder and body image issues should be taken seriously and acknowledged immediately.

Eating Disorders And The Media

Although there is no single cause of eating disorders, research has shown time and time again that there is a strong connection between eating disorders and the media.  As technology improves and access to media sources such as the internet and television increases, more and more children are exposed to large amounts of media every day.  Studies show that most 8-18 year olds engage in some form of media for about 7.5 hours on a typical day, including while they are at school.  Not all media is necessarily bad, but it can be problematic when it is sending unwanted messages to our youth.

The media can contribute to eating disorders in many ways.  It often creates a “thin ideal” among women that subconsciously tells them that they must have a perfectly thin body in order to amount to anyone special.  It is rare to see models in a fashion magazine that are not thin and without blemish.  The media also targets men by creating an unrealistic expectation for masculinity.  These expectations cannot be met by the majority people and they often lead to poor self-esteem, followed by the development of eating disorders.

The first step in breaking the connection between eating disorders and the media in our communities is to recognize that there is a problem.  Don’t allow the media to dictate how you feel about yourself and find worthwhile activities that will help you recognize your true self worth.