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Teens: Your Body Image

If we were to do a survey about how many of us feel happy with our bodies, what percent do you think would answer 'Yes'?

Current research on body image shows that women are much more critical of their appearance than men. Up to 8 out of 10 women are dissatisfied with their bodies.

Again, I keep coming back to the media and it's influence on our thinking; the beliefs we create because of it. Every day we watch TV shows with their perfect looking actors, or read fashion magazines picturing top models. How can we not end up feeling inadequate in comparison? We compare our looks to those of actors and models, and then feel awful because we aren't as skinny, or don't have the same straight nose, or the same hair, or big eyes etc.

We don't know how many plastic surgery procedures the models may have gone through, or how the photos are touched up and airbrushed, or how many actors and models feel the need to starve themselves to maintain their demanded body weight. The models appear to have it all because of their looks, but do we really know if they are happy? Would you be happy if millions of people were judging your body on screen or in magazines? Would you be happy if you rarely got to eat?

It is estimated that young women today see more images of outstanding beautiful women in one day than their mothers saw throughout their entire adolescence. No wonder there are so many ads for weight loss wonder pills and instant diet plans. We see 'before' and 'after' pictures that lead us to believe our lives will be perfect if we can just loose the weight. Then we will be beautiful, right?

Again, what they don't tell us is that many of the people in those 'miracle' weight loss commercials get paid quite handsomely to loose weight, and are even using other methods beside the product advertised. And they don't tell us how many of these people gain the weight back and then some after the diet is over.

These companies spend millions of dollars on marketing figuring out new ways of attracting people to their product. The most effective marketing method is to make you feel inadequate, and then offer you an 'easy' weight loss technique.

So do be aware of the big, bad advertising monsters that make you feel like you have to look a certain way to be a worth-while person.

Chances are, you have friends or family who are actually not overweight, but still say they need to loose some weight. The question you may ask then is, if they need to loose weight, do you also need to loose weight? Shouldn't you too be unhappy with your body? It seems like the pressure to be skinny never ends.

But dieting can quickly lead to an eating disorder, and that's the last thing you ever want to go through. Just ask someone who ended up in the hospital for malnutrition.

The fact is, overeating is usually caused by emotions. You may notice that when you feel tired, angry or lonely, you reach for a cookie or another slice of pizza.

Next time you are eating, ask yourself the question, 'Am I eating because I feel hungry or is there another reason?' If you eat only when you feel hungry, your weight will adjust itself to where it should be.

Eat a variety of foods, and make fruits and veggies part of your daily food intake. If you are not already doing so, find a sport that you enjoy. It might take a few tries for you to find the sport that fits you best, but keep looking. Being physically active will help you feel better about your body.

Unfortunately, some sports nowadays do cost a lot of money, which can create a big problem for teens. If that is the case, there are other ways to keep your body fit. Going for walks with your dog (or your friends), go bicycling, play Frisbee, jump rope, just get moving. Even mowing the lawn is good exercise, and you may also be able to charge for it and make some money on the side!

Submitted by:

Christine McGogy

Christine McGogy

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