en españolImagen corporal y autoestima
Does any of this sound familiar? "I'm too tall." "I'm too short." "I'm too skinny." "If only I were shorter/taller/had curly hair/straight hair/a smaller nose/longer legs, I'd be happy."
Are you putting yourself down? If so, you're not alone. As a teen, you're going through lots of changes in your body. And, as your body changes, so does your image of yourself. It's not always easy to like every part of your looks, but when you get stuck on the negatives it can really bring down your self-esteem.
Why Are Self-Esteem and Body Image Important?
Self-esteem is all about how much you feel you are worth — and how much you feel other people value you. Self-esteem is important because feeling good about yourself can affect your mental health and how you behave.
People with high self-esteem know themselves well. They're realistic and find friends that like and appreciate them for who they are. People with high self-esteem usually feel more in control of their lives and know their own strengths and weaknesses.
Body image is how you view your physical self — including whether you feel you are attractive and whether others like your looks. For many people, especially people in their early teens, body image can be closely linked to self-esteem.
What Influences a Person's Self-Esteem?
Puberty and Development
Some people struggle with their self-esteem and body image when they begin puberty because it's a time when the body goes through many changes. These changes, combined with wanting to feel accepted by our friends, means it can be tempting to compare ourselves with others. The trouble with that is, not everyone grows or develops at the same time or in the same way.
Media Images and Other Outside Influences
Our tweens and early teens are a time when we become more aware of celebrities and media images — as well as how other kids look and how we fit in. We might start to compare ourselves with other people or media images ("ideals" that are frequently airbrushed). All of this can affect how we feel about ourselves and our bodies even as we grow into our teens.
Families and School
Family life can sometimes influence our body image. Some parents or coaches might be too focused on looking a certain way or "making weight" for a sports team. Family members might struggle with their own body image or criticize their kids' looks ("why do you wear your hair so long?" or "how come you can't wear pants that fit you?"). This can all influence a person's self-esteem, especially if they're sensitive to others peoples' comments.
People also may experience negative comments and hurtful teasing about the way they look from classmates and peers. Although these often come from ignorance, sometimes they can affect body image and self-esteem.
If you have a positive body image, you probably like and accept yourself the way you are, even if you don't fit some media "ideal." This healthy attitude allows you to explore other aspects of growing up, such as developing good friendships, becoming more independent from your parents, and challenging yourself physically and mentally. Developing these parts of yourself can help boost your self-esteem.
A positive, optimistic attitude can help people develop strong self-esteem. For example, if you make a mistake, you might want to say, "Hey, I'm human" instead of "Wow, I'm such a loser" or not blame others when things don't go as expected.
Knowing what makes you happy and how to meet your goals can help you feel capable, strong, and in control of your life. A positive attitude and a healthy lifestyle (such as exercising and eating right) are a great combination for building good self-esteem.
Tips for Improving Body Image
Some people think they need to change how they look to feel good about themselves. But all you need to do is change the way you see your body and how you think about yourself. Here are some tips on doing that:
Recognize that your body is your own, no matter what shape or size it comes in. Try to focus on how strong and healthy your body is and the things it can do, not what's wrong with it or what you feel you want to change about it. If you're worried about your weight or size, check with your doctor to verify that things are OK. But it's no one's business but your own what your body is like — ultimately, you have to be happy with yourself.
Identify which aspects of your appearance you can realistically change and which you can't. Humans, by definition, are imperfect. It's what makes each of us unique and original! Everyone (even the most perfect-seeming celeb) has things that they can't change and need to accept — like their height, for example, or their shoe size. Remind yourself that "real people aren't perfect and perfect people aren't real (they're usually airbrushed!)".
If there are things about yourself that you want to change and can, do this by making goals for yourself. For example, if you want to get fit, make a plan to exercise every day and eat healthy. Then keep track of your progress until you reach your goal. Meeting a challenge you set for yourself is a great way to boost self-esteem!
When you hear negative comments coming from within, tell yourself to stop. Appreciate that each person is more than just how he or she looks on any given day. We're complex and constantly changing. Try to focus on what's unique and interesting about yourself.
Try building your self-esteem by giving yourself three compliments every day. While you're at it, every evening list three things in your day that really gave you pleasure. It can be anything from the way the sun felt on your face, the sound of your favorite band, or the way someone laughed at your jokes. By focusing on the good things you do and the positive aspects of your life, you can change how you feel about yourself.
Some people with physical disabilities or differences may feel they are not seen for their true selves because of their bodies and what they can and can't do. Other people may have such serious body image issues that they need a bit more help. Working with a counselor or therapist can help some people gain perspective and learn to focus on their individual strengths as well as develop healthier thinking.
Where Can I Go if I Need Help?
Sometimes low self-esteem and body image problems are too much to handle alone. A few teens may become depressed, and lose interest in activities or friends. Some go on to develop eating disorders or body image disorders, or use alcohol or drugs to escape feelings of low worth.
If you're feeling this way, it can help to talk to a parent, coach, religious leader, guidance counselor, therapist, or friend. A trusted adult — someone who supports you and doesn't bring you down — can help you put your body image in perspective and give you positive feedback about your body, your skills, and your abilities.
If you can't turn to anyone you know, call a teen crisis hotline (an online search can give you the information for national and local hotlines). The most important thing is to get help if you feel like your body image and self-esteem are affecting your life.
Many men and women are concerned about their body image.
Body image is not just what we see in the mirror. It involves memories, assumptions, and generalizations, according to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA).
Throughout history, humans have given importance to the beauty of the human body. Society, media, and popular culture often shape how a person sees their own body, but popular standards are not always helpful.
Constant bombardment by media images can cause people to feel uncomfortable about their body, and this can lead to distress, illness and unhealthy behavior. It can affect how we interact with others, and how we feel about many aspects of our life.
What does body image mean?
A person with a positive body feels comfortable and happy in their body.
Body image refers to a person's emotional attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions of their own body.
It has been defined as "the multifaceted psychological experience of embodiment."
Body image relates to:
- what a person believes about their appearance
- how they feel about their body
- how they sense and control their body as they move
- how they feel about their body, including their height, weight, and shape
It can be positive or negative.
A negative body image is frequently linked to disorders such as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), body integrity identity disorder, and eating disorders.
What is a positive body image?
Studies suggest that our attitude to our body image remains stable through most of the lifespan.
A person with a positive body image has a true and clear perception of their body shape and appearance that other people would agree with.
The person is happy about the way they look, and they accept and feel good about their body and their appearance, even if it does not match what the media, family, or friends suggest is desirable.
They are aware that how they look is not their personality. They are proud of the way they look and feel confident in their body.
A healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet and exercise, can contribute to a positive body image.
Part of having a positive body image is the ability to separate how we value ourselves from how we look. People who realize that self-worth is not linked to appearance tend to feel good about how they look.
What is a negative body image?
A negative body image can arise when a person feels that their looks do not measure up to what society, family, friends, and the media expect.
They may frequently compare themselves with others, and they may feel inadequate when doing so. They may feel ashamed, embarrassed, and lacking in confidence. They often feel uncomfortable and awkward in their body.
The individual often has an unrealistic view of themselves. They may look in the mirror and see parts of their body in a distorted, unreal way. A woman with a normal body mass index (BMI) for example, may persistently see herself as fat.
Some people develop a disorder known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). A person with BDD sees their body, or part of their body, in a negative way. They may ask for cosmetic surgery to "correct" their nose size, for example, when to everyone else, it appears normal.
This can be dangerous if it leads to mental health problems, such as depression. The person may pursue unnecessary surgery, unsafe weight-loss habits, such as a crash diet. A man might engage in an inappropriate use of hormones to build muscles.
Researchers from the University of Illinois, Chicago, found that young women with normal or low weight who believed they were too heavy were more likely to pursue unsafe weight-loss behaviors than those who were able to assess their weight status accurately.
Where does a negative body image come from?
A body image does not develop in isolation. Culture, family, and friends convey positive and negative messages about our bodies.
A person with a negative body image may worry that they do not match up to images promoted by the media.
The media, peers, and family members can all influence a person's body image. They may encourage men and women, and even young boys and girls, to believe that there is an ideal body. The image is often an unnatural one.
Advertisements may suggest that all men should be tall with large muscles, and all women should be slender. This is not always realistic, because everyone is made differently.
As viewers compare themselves to clinically underweight professional models and reality TV stars who have undergone radical cosmetic surgery, some feel pressure to set themselves unrealistic and unnatural targets.
The fashion industry sets an unhealthy example by employing underweight models to display their products. Their influence can affect both mental and physical wellbeing in a susceptible individual.
As the body changes with age, this can affect a person's body image. Illness and accidents, too, can have an impact. A mastectomy for breast cancer or a limb amputation can cause people to rethink how they appear to themselves and others.
Many people with obesity have a negative body image. Studies suggest that in people with obesity, successful weight loss interventions may improve body image.
Emotional insecurity can make someone more susceptible to developing a negative body image.
Studies have shown that girls and women with greater resilience, linked to family support, gender role satisfaction, copying strategies, fitness and wellbeing are more likely to have a positive body image.
Negative thoughts and feelings can be perpetuated through interactions with others.
"Fat talk" happens when people, most often women, get together and comment on how "fat" they look or feel.
It can be a way of bonding and making oneself and other people feel better by showing that they are not alone in "feeling fat." It can also lead to further negative feelings, low mood, and negative eating patterns.
Are women are more dissatisfied with their bodies than men?
Men, too, are concerned with their body image.
It is commonly believed that women are likely than men to be dissatisfied with their bodies.
However, studies that men are also concerned about their appearance. According to one report, 95 percent of male college students are unhappy about some aspect of their bodies.
Studies suggest that there are many similarities between a negative body image in men and in women, and that they share many of the same factors. However, men tend to be "quieter" about their discomfort.
A 2004 study found that women's attitude to their body image tends to remain stable throughout their lifespan, although the importance of shape, weight, and appearance decrease with age.
Tips for improving body image
Here are some tips for improving how you feel about yourself:
- Celebrate what your body can do: run, swim, dance, sing, and so on
- List 10 things you like about yourself and pin it up where you can see it
- Remember that beauty is not just about appearances
- See yourself in the mirror as a whole person, not as a nose or a thigh
- Think positive: Overpower negative messages with positive ones
- Wear comfortable clothes that look good on you
- Avoid or be actively critical of media messages and images that make you feel as if you should be something different
- Use the time you would spend fretting on volunteering, exercise, or a hobby
- Avoid "fat talk," and encourage your friends to do the same
- Do something nice for your body, for example, a massage or a haircut
Body image and physical exercise
Exercise can help a person to be more confident in their strength and agility, and it can contribute to maintaining a healthy weight and body size. It can also reduce anxiety and depression. However, people exercise for different reasons.
In 2015, researchers found that people who exercise for functional reasons, in order to be fit, tend to have a more positive body image. Those who exercise to improve their appearance feel less positive about their bodies.
The authors suggest emphasizing the functional benefits of exercise and de-emphasizing the motives that related to outside appearances, to help people foster a more positive body image.