Most parents can remember what life was like in their early adolescent years. They had to deal with changing bodies, navigate school and sports activities, juggle their social events and so much more. During the teen years, it’s completely normal to think a lot about how one’s body looks and compare it to others. Forming a positive body image during this time can result in high self-esteem, but if young people develop a negative body image, they are more likely to experience low self-esteem and other long-term issues — including the development of common eating disorders. While body image in teens can be a difficult topic for parents to approach, knowing how their children are feeling is essential for eating disorder prevention and early intervention.
What Is Body Image?
An individual’s body image is how they think and feel about their own body. They way they feel about their body includes the picture of their body that they see in their mind — which may or may not match the actual size and shape of their body. Having a positive body image means that an individual feels generally happy thoughts and overall satisfaction when thinking about their body. They are usually comfortable and accepting of the way that they look. A negative body image means that an individual is generally unhappy with how they look. They may feel like they need to change their body size or shape.
Body image is something that can frequently change throughout a lifetime. Body image is also closely connected to self-esteem and positive lifestyle choice. When people feel good about their body, they are much more likely to experience feelings of high self-esteem and positive mental health. Additionally, people with a positive body image tend to have a balanced attitude towards food and physical activity. A positive body image in adolescence can help to lay solid foundations for good mental and physical health as children grow into adults. On the other hand, a negative body image in teens can be accompanied by long-term psychological and physical health consequences.
How Does a Negative Body Image Relate to Eating Disorder Development?
Most body image concerns begin at a very young age and can continue throughout one’s life. Research shows that teenage girl body image should be a big concern for parents, with 40 to 60 percent of girls aged 6-12 reporting that they are concerned about 0their weight. While there is no root cause for the development of eating disorders, people with a negative body image are more likely to experience feelings of depression, isolation, and disordered food behaviors that can develop into conditions like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
Teenage Girl Body Image Concerns Every Parent Should Look Out For
It is perfectly normal for children to become conscious of their bodies in adolescence and want to look their best. But when teens begin to focus too much on their bodies, it can result in stress and anxiety. If parents believe that their teens are experiencing any of the following warning signs, they should speak to them about their concerns and consult a medical professional.
Signs of negative body image in teens:
- Continually comparing body with others
- Feeling inadequate about or criticizing one’s body
- Not wanting to leave the house because of the way one looks
- Avoiding activities or trying new things because of the way they feel about their body
- Obsessing over food, weight, calories, dieting or exercise
- Obsessing over specific body parts like arms, legs or stomach
- Frequently checking their body in the mirror or taking photos to help identify “imperfections”
- Creating a link between food and feelings of shame, guilt or disgust
Negative Body Image in Adolescence: When to Seek Treatment
It’s possible for negative teenage girl body image to result in the development of an eating disorder. If parents have concerns about their child’s health after speaking with them about changes surrounding body image in adolescence, seeking a professional diagnosis is an essential next step.
At Clementine, we are proud to provide eating disorder treatment for adolescents in a safe, luxurious and home-like setting. Are you interested in learning more about our adolescent eating disorder recovery programs? Call us today at 1.855.900.2221 to speak with one of our friendly admissions specialists.