Influences On Body Image
Although progressive attitudes toward media representations of beauty have somewhat altered the marketing landscape, movies, TV, and advertisements still seem to create unrealistic beauty standards, and these influences can significantly impact a teenager’s self-image. Some teens may struggle with weight gain or acne during puberty, common issues that many people experience, but failing to address these issues in healthy and constructive ways can cause serious self-image problems later in life.
Teens tend to be hyper-conscious about their bodies, often fretting over minor changes as they age. They also face a nearly constant bombardment of depictions of idealized body types that may deteriorate their self-esteem and make them feel compelled to pursue unrealistic, digitally altered body types. This can lead to eating disorders, psychological distress, social complications, and possibly even dangerous medical conditions and substance abuse.
Both teen boys and girls experience a barrage of unhealthy influences from the media. Young men see depictions of perfectly sculpted, muscular men with chiseled features and young women compare themselves to often digitally altered depictions of women on magazine covers with flawless, traditionally beautiful features. These teens will often feel dissatisfied about themselves when they cannot match these unrealistic depictions, and parents have a duty to help them realize that ideals are not grounded in reality and help their kids learn to be comfortable in their own skin.
While young men are generally less likely to talk about their self-image issues than women, this does not mean they experience these issues less often or less acutely. Young men often develop eating disorders and are statistically more likely to engage in substance abuse at younger ages than their female peers.