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A Teens’ body image can be influenced by many factors however, typically for teens, the greatest influences are their peers. In an effort to fit in teens look at each other to identify norms and there can be pressure to look a certain way. If a teen doesn’t fit in because of body size or shape they are at risk of developing body image issues. Bullying and teasing can often lead to a teen losing too much weight or even overeating due to stress. Peers can often convince teens they should look a certain way.
If you remember back to your teen years you can probably relate to this and you may also believe that parents don’t have a lot of influence on a teen. However this is where you are wrong.
For example, take a mother of a teenage girl, if the teenager is constantly hearing her mother complain about her own weight and her own body image this can influence the teenage girl to have negative feelings about her own body image. The reality is that whether the teen has close ties to his/ her parents or not the parents do have an influence on their choices.
Media and Body Image
The media plays a big role in influencing teens about body image. Teens are surround by many images and often the greatest indirect role models are celebrities and other prominent figures that appear in magazines and on TV. Mesmerized by these faultless bodies the teen is driven to a false sense of reality believing that these air brushed figures are as perfect as they appear in posters, magazines and on TV. A teen who falls victim to this type of fantasy puts great pressure on themselves as they strive to look like their idols.
It is important that you show your teen you have an interest in what they are watching or reading and you need to be careful in commenting. However whilst you engage with the teen about how good the model looks you will have the opportunity of subtly commenting on how clever the artist is in air brushing and how great it would be if this happened in the real world.
Poor body image can have a number of physical and emotional effects upon teens which can have a big impact on their lives. Peer pressure and Media pressure certainly contribute to both.
When a teen has a poor body image they can go to extremes in try to get their perceived ideal figure. They follow crash diets and do other things in order to make themselves feel good about themselves. Unfortunately, many don’t succeed in reaching their ideal weight or shape and the steps they do take can result in adverse effects upon their health.
Having not succeeded in achieving their target weight they can often be prone to mood swings which can if undetected and treated turn into depression.
Media also is instrumental in teens become sedentary as they sit and watch movies or sit for long period reading magazines.
Media pressure on Weight
The media, whilst having some positive influence, has also a lot to answer for as it is the biggest culprit when it comes to influencing teens about their weight. Scantily dressed idols appearing in magazines, on television and in the movies all portray the ultimate standard of beauty. Unfortunately as many teens don’t identify that this is a mere fantasy and that it is not possible for many of them to live up to this standard in everyday life they can fall victim to mood swings and depression.
In some instances some teens fall victim to anorexia bulimia and other eating disorders and things get even worse it can also affect a teens’ mental health.
Media is not all bad – teens can learn from media
There is a positive side to media as teens can learn from media and entertainment, they can develop new skills and stay out of trouble as well.
Teens can learn from reading newspapers, magazines and even from watching movies. It’s all about making right choices and about choosing how to interpret what is read and what movies are viewed. Again this is the reason why you as a parent should take the time to communicate with your teen, be genuinely interested in what they are ready and watching. For your teen to believe that you have a genuine interest you need to be an active listener, remember you have 2 ears and 1 mouth, you need to use them in that proportion. It is important that you make no negative comment and if you want to understand more ask your teen questions. It is in this way that you will get an understanding as to how your teen is interpreting their world.
You need to also remember that whilst it is great if you can get your teen to do some physical exercise or sport it is better to have them watching movie and reading books than being on the street.