Teen Body Image

Teenagers are truly bizarre creatures. These bedroom dwelling, loud music listening, back chatting little humans yet to discover their place in the world. Most of our life’s experimentation happens during those formidable years. They what to feel like they have a place in the world so they go through the motions of discovering who they are and where they fit. Enter the body image crisis.

The image conscious teen is constant bombarded by the media and friends as to what it hot and what is not. Slim is in, models, actresses and singers are the “bomb”, and the fat chick in the corner munching a mars bar is “totally gross”. Lets not forget also, that teenagers can be unreasonably cruel. They will pick on anything that doesn’t fit with little regard for how it makes the other party feels, mostly because it highlights their own in-ness.

The single most important thing to remember is that all of this is done because the child lacks confidence. Some may say that the “in” girls or boys oozes confidence because of the way they hold them selves or the way they act or speak but the reality of the situation is that generally these kids need constant assurances that they fit. And the tubby one in the corner munching down the mars bar, lacks the confidence to be who they really are. They feel over powered by the apparent confidence of the “in” crowd.

So how would one deal with the body image crisis? Well the best starting point is to explain to the child that healthy eating and lifestyle choices will benefit them in the future. This can be tricky as most kids are completely apathetic about their futures in that regard. So the simplest way to counter this is to lead by example. If you eat right, exercise regularly with your kids and care about your own bodies, your kids will follow suit. In todays rush rush society its much easier to order take out for dinner, but in all honesty you could have prepared a simple and nutritious meal in that same time it took for the local pizza place to deliver. and for about half the cost as well.

Exercising doesn’t mean getting everyone a gym membership either. All it takes in a family stroll in the afternoons, a game of catch in the park, or just an energetic wresting match on the living room floor. Take the kids to the swimming pool in the summer time for a few friendly races or a game of Marco Polo. In the winter time head out to the park and have a game of tag or if its just way too cold, head down to the shopping centre for a few hours of window shopping. The main thing to remember is that any real movement is exercise and all it take is 30 minutes a day coupled with the healthy eating, to maintain a healthy life style.

Also it is important to remember that teenagers are very much the instant gratification kind of people. If it doesn’t happen then and there they are likely to give up hope and toss it all in. Don’t let them. You don’t need to berate them into doing it and of course if they are having an off day, give them a day off, but gentle encouragement can go along way into keeping them on track.

Another important thing to remember is that you must NEVER reward you kids with junk food. If they have been doing well, reward them with something that is going to boost their confidence further. Which brings us to the next point. Appearance.

Looks are everything to a teenager. Hairstyles, clothes, shoes, its all interlaced and it all has to be “in”. So use that money you’ve saved by not eating out so much and reward you child with a trip to the hairdressers. Home cuts are free but nothing beats that, just stepped out of the salon feeling. Teach your child how to style their hair and give them access to a few styling products as well. They don’t need to be expensive. Discount store carry a great range of styling products and hair accessories at great prices. If your child is having trouble getting the hang of it, help them out. It can be a great way to bond with your teenager.

Clothes maketh the teenager, and in a teenage world labels maketh the legend. Labels, however, are extraordinarily over priced. Try checking out your local thrift shops. You may only find one article of clothing per store but persistence is the key to building your child a teen friendly wardrobe. Ebay is another great place for a bargain. Just be careful not to get stuck in a bidding war and end up paying retail price for second hand goods. Don’t forget to check out the bulk lot listing as well. You may be lucky enough to get you child a complete seasons wardrobe for the price of a new pair of jeans. For all those items that your get in the bulk lots that don’t fit or your child doesn’t like, re-list them and make some of the money back again. Bear in mind that the clothes don’t necessarily have to have that label on them, they just need to look like they deserve one.

The most important thing to remember is that a) clean and in a good state of repair is paramount and b) yes we as adults know that labels are pretentious and pointless, but these are not adults yet. They will discover this too in their own time. Right now they are teens and image is everything.

Building a teens confidence is a slow process. It involves hard work and a lot of communication. Its important to remind your teen that most of the time, people look a certain way because they take the time to make them selves look good and at other times its just simple genetics and that if we all looked the same the world would be a very boring place indeed.