With every glossy magazine cover, every network reality show episode, every emerging new pop artist, the average teen’s body image takes a hit. Consider the following statistics from the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty and USA Today.
- More than 90 percent of girls ages 15 to 17 want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest.
- Nearly a quarter of girls 15-17 already are considering undergoing plastic surgery when they’re of age.
- Thirteen percent of girls in the same age group acknowledge having an eating disorder in an attempt to lose weight.
- Seven in 10 girls believe they are don’t measure up in some way, including their looks and relationships.
- Girls aren’t the only ones affected by negative body images. Up to 12 percent of teen boys are using unproven supplements and/or steroids to gain a more muscular physique.
Developing and maintaining a positive body image can be tough for today’s teens, considering the constant media bombardment of unrealistic or uneasily attained looks and perpetual peer pressure. But it’s critical to a confident, competitive and productive way of life. Project SOS offers five ways to love your look:
1. Understand that much of what you see in the media is unreal – literally. Skin, hair and body parts of celebrities and models are routinely retouched in magazines, creating a look that has far more to do with a marketing image than with reality.
2. Take care of your body, your skin and your soul. Exercise, opt for nutritious foods and drinks, get plenty of rest and groom yourself.
3. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body. Work with your body, not against it.
4. Manage the messages you receive about your body and looks. Skip watching reality shows and reading gossip magazines. Instead, read a book, take up a hobby and spend time with friends who care about you and speak positively about you and themselves.
5. Look past your look. Remind yourself daily that true beauty is far more than skin-deep and keep a list of the top 10 things you love about yourself that are unrelated to your looks – your smarts, your sense of humor, your infectious laugh, your unique talents, your generous spirit and the amazing dreams and goals you’ve set for yourself.
For more support and guidance developing a positive outlook, setting goals and fulfilling your potential, consider talking with a certified life coach. For more information, call Project SOS at 904-296-9950.